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Soriano eyes eighth straight All-Star bid

Soriano Cubs' All-Star ballot

CHICAGO -- The Cubs sent a National League record eight players to the All-Star Game last year, as well as manager Lou Piniella. How many will go this July?

Balloting gets under way on Wednesday for the Midsummer Classic, to be played July 14 at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano will be vying for his eighth straight trip to the All-Star Game. He has a .357 average in the event, including three home runs. In 2002, he homered off the Dodgers' Eric Gagne in the fifth inning. In '04, Soriano belted a three-run shot in the first off Roger Clemens to give the American League a 6-0 lead and was named MVP. In '07, he connected on a two-run homer in the ninth off Seattle's J.J. Putz to become the first player to homer in the All-Star Game for three different teams (Yankees, Nationals, Cubs).

Second baseman Mike Fontenot is on the ballot for the first time.

"It was pretty cool when I looked on [the Web site] and saw it," Fontenot said.

The infielder, who has played in the College World Series, has been named to All-Star teams in the past.

"This is different if you get a chance to be a Major League All-Star," Fontenot said. "That's a huge goal a lot of guys have. It's something people can never take away from you."

He planned on waiting a few days before contacting buddies to vote for him.

"I'll get some friends who will get online and vote for me," Fontenot said. "First, I'll work on getting some base knocks, and then I'm going to start telling every friend I've ever known, and they'll start voting."

Told they can vote up to 25 times each, Fontenot started doing the math.

"My whole family, that's 175 people," he said. "That's a lot of votes. I have to work on getting some base knocks first."

Other Cubs on the All-Star ballot include first baseman Derrek Lee, shortstop Ryan Theriot, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, catcher Geovany Soto and outfielders Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley.

Last year, Soto became the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game and the first Cubs catcher to receive the honor since Gabby Hartnett in 1937. Soto won NL Rookie of the Year in 2008, batting .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs.

The other Cubs who appeared in the 2008 game at old Yankee Stadium include Fukudome, who started in right field, Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol. Soriano was elected to start but did not play because of an injury. Kerry Wood also was chosen but did not play because of a blister.

It was Ramirez's second All-Star nod. Lee has played in two (2005 and '07), while last year was Bradley's first -- he started as the designated hitter for the AL. Then with the Texas Rangers, Bradley said the selection was "humbling and fulfilling and as special a feeling as you can get."

Balloting at Wrigley Field begins April 30, when the Cubs open a six-game homestand against the Florida Marlins and ends June 18.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

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

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