Plenty of star power at third base

Plenty of star power at third base

Alex Rodriguez spent most of the spring toiling in the batting cages and on secluded practice fields, but when he'd stop for an idle minute with reporters, the repeated statement from A-Rod was that he finally felt like he'd reached a "good place" mentally.

If there was any doubt, A-Rod went out and proved it in a torrid first month, leading the American League in home runs (14) and RBIs (34) en route to winning the season's first AL Player of the Month honors.

Now, with that opening barrage complete, baseball fans can band together to send Rodriguez to another "good place" -- the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco.

"He's a special player with special talent," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "The best part of it, for me, is that he seems to be enjoying it a lot more than he was last season."

While Rodriguez's name radiates immense star power and continues to draw some of the largest reactions in any stadium the Yankees visit, he is only one of many third-base candidates staking their claim to trek out to the Bay Area and represent their clubs in the July 10 Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park.

In the National League, Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins continues his hot rise as one of baseball's top young players at the hot corner, batting .325 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs through 34 games. At the young age of 24, it really is astounding to consider how many more All-Star Games Cabrera could possibly enjoy in his career.

However, he'll have to fend off the vote for the old guard, namely veteran Chipper Jones of the Braves, who has proven at age 35 that he can still inflict damage on any NL pitcher.

But don't count out a vote for his suddenly bald and resurgent NL East counterpart, the Mets' David Wright, who homered in his first All-Star Game at-bat last season off Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers.

After a slow start to his season, the Shea Stadium fan favorite is finding his power stroke and could be challenged in the vote by high-school buddy Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.

The D-Backs' Chad Tracy is showing his solid approach by batting over .300, while over in Wrigleyville, the Cubs are enjoying the pop provided by third sacker Aramis Ramirez, who has slugged eight homers and 22 RBIs.

All-Star Game Coverage

While some speculate that A-Rod could be a runaway candidate in the American League, there are players who'd like to have something to say about that.

Mike Lowell is enjoying a resurgent season at Fenway Park, batting .313 with seven homers and 30 RBIs for the AL East first-place Red Sox, leading the pack of Junior Circuit candidates at a position that is burgeoning with talented names.

Troy Glaus of the Blue Jays has been slowed by injuries, but he continues to be a dangerous force, batting .313 with six homers and 14 RBIs, and the Orioles' Melvin Mora ranks third among American League third basemen with 21 RBIs.

Some established AL stars such as Hank Blalock, Eric Chavez, Joe Crede and Chone Figgins have seen their seasons get off to relatively slow offensive starts. But don't count out late surges from players who can turn it on when the stakes are high.

The names mentioned are just a few options on a submission that, really, has no wrong answers. Whether you're voting based on homers or hometowns, performance or proximity, cast your ballots now and often.

Fans can cast votes up to 25 times with the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites. Online balloting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28.

Rosters for the 78th All-Star Game will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET on July 1. The announcement will reveal the 16 elected starters -- eight in each league -- as determined by fan balloting, and the 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot, the two All-Star team managers -- Tony La Russa of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and Jim Leyland of the AL champion Detroit Tigers -- and Major League Baseball.

Fans will also again have the chance to choose the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The "Final Vote" will allow fans the ability to cast votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period. Fans added the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra (NL) and the White Sox A.J. Pierzynski (AL) to the rosters last summer.

For the fifth straight year, the league that wins the All-Star Game earns home-field advantage for the World Series. The AL has won nine straight Midsummer Classics.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.