Longoria needs fans' help in Final Vote

Longoria needs fans' help in Final Vote

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rookie Evan Longoria is a Final Vote nominee for the American League, and it shouldn't take long for him to garner support.

Longoria has given the Rays everything they expected when they called him up from Triple-A Durham on April 12. He has started 75 of 76 games since his arrival, with the Rays posting a 49-27 mark during that span.

The 22-year-old third baseman has shined at bat and in the field. Through Sunday's action, Longoria is hitting .281 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs. In addition, he has fielded his position exceptionally well, especially with barehanded grabs and throws of opposing bunts.

Longoria already ranks second in Rays history for home runs by a rookie (Jonny Gomes had 21 in 2005). And he displayed his versatility by playing shortstop for the first time in his professional career when everyday shortstop Jason Bartlett was a late scratch on June 19.

Longoria smiled when asked if he had begun his texting campaign yet.

"I haven't, but I'm sure my mom has," Longoria said. "She's probably online right now, been voting for the last hour."

He added that he intended to vote for himself.

"It's just an honor to be on the list my first full year in the big leagues," Longoria said. "It doesn't matter how you get in as long as you're an All-Star."

Rays reliever J.P. Howell personified the spirit in the Rays' clubhouse with his plans for Sunday night.

"Oh yeah, I'm going to be texting [for Longoria] all night, texting my boys," Howell said. "I'm all ready,"

Now in its seventh year, the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevy and continues until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 10. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

So it will be up to Rays fans to try to use the power of the vote to get Longoria on the team. The other Final Vote nominees are: Jermaine Dye, White Sox; Brian Roberts, Orioles; Jose Guillen, Royals; and Jason Giambi, Yankees.

"Just to be included in that list of names is awesome," said Longoria, who hit his 16th home run in the Rays' 9-2 win over the Royals on Sunday. "I didn't really think down the stretch I was going to get any kind of voting or any kind of mention. But it was a good overall day for me."

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to their phones; to vote for a specific player, they can simply reply with their choice. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555. Standard rate text messaging rates apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

Should Longoria be the AL's Final Vote nominee, he will join teammates Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro, who were both named to the team on Sunday.

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