Cruz aiming to start consecutive All-Star Games

Cruz aiming to start consecutive All-Star Games

ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz has played extensively in right field in the early season for the Mariners, but if the slugger is going to be voted on to this year's American League All-Star team, it's going to come at designated hitter.

Cruz, who set the early lead in the Majors in home runs and RBIs in his first 20 games with Seattle, is one of nine Mariners on the AL All-Star ballot that was released Wednesday. But Cruz is listed at DH, where many people thought he'd earn the majority of his playing time after signing a four-year, $57 million deal with the Mariners last offseason.

Cruz was voted to the AL All-Star team by the fans last year at DH when he was with the Orioles. That was his third All-Star selection, but first time being elected by the fans. He was selected as a backup in 2013 and was added to the '09 All-Star Game as an injury replacement, both times while with the Rangers.

The Mariners have several strong candidates on this year's AL ballot. Robinson Cano has started the past five All-Star Games at second base, including last year when he was again elected by the fans in his first season with Seattle. Cano has been selected to six All-Star Games in his career and is the first AL second baseman to start five times in a row since Roberto Alomar from 1996-2000.

Third baseman Kyle Seager earned his first All-Star selection last season as an injury replacement and figures to be a contender for a starting role this year after raising his national profile with his first AL Gold Glove and a seven-year, $100 million extension with the Mariners last winter.

Fans can now cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, July 2, at 8:59 p.m. PT. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.

Other Mariners on this year's AL ballot are catcher Mike Zunino, first baseman Logan Morrison, shortstop Brad Miller and outfielders Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson and Seth Smith.

Pitchers aren't voted on by the fans, but Felix Hernandez has been named to five All-Star Games and was last year's AL starter, while closer Fernando Rodney pitched in his second All-Star Game last summer. Hisashi Iwakuma was a 2013 AL All-Star, though he's currently sidelined for two to four weeks with a strained lat muscle.

In addition to the online voting, fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.

Following the announcement of the 2015 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player for each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 14, watch the 2015 All-Star Game live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.