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Fan-favorite Longoria in running for ASG

Longoria in running for ASG

SEATTLE -- All-Star Game ballots were released on Wednesday and Evan Longoria's name is right there with the other American League third basemen this season.

Longoria, who was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 2008, was not on last year's ballot. However, he did earn a spot on the team after winning the "Final Vote" fan ballot with a record 9 million votes, becoming the youngest Rays position player ever to make the club.

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"For me to get in the way that I did made it a little bit more special, to know that the fans were behind me and they appreciated the work I was doing," Longoria said.

Rays fans will now have a chance to vote for Longoria, who appears earmarked to become an American League staple at third base for the coming years.

"It's definitely an honor to have your name on the ballot," Longoria said. "Some guys probably play their whole careers, 10 or 15 years in this game, and don't get to be on the ballot. It's definitely a huge honor. Hopefully I can make it. Hopefully I can play in the All-Star Game every year."

Not only did Longoria make last year's team, he participated in the Home Run Derby and went 1-for-4 with a ground-rule RBI double as he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the DH spot.

"I would say the only better feeling there could be than the experience I had last year was to be a starter, start the game," Longoria said. "The All-Star Game is an amazing feeling. It's obviously the best of the best in your business. A lot of times it's guys who have been in the league forever, all the superstars. For me to be a part of it was crazy.

Also on the ballot from the Rays are Carlos Pena, first base; Akinori Iwamura, second base; Jason Bartlett, shortstop; Dioner Navarro, catcher; and Pat Burrell, B.J. Upton, and Carl Crawford in the outfield.

Burrell primarily serves as the Rays' DH. Having him listed as an outfielder bumped Gabe Gross, Ben Zobrist, and Gabe Kapler from being on the ballot.

Crawford and Navarro have both appeared in the Midsummer Classic, but Pena, last year's AL Gold Glove winner at first base, Upton, Iwamura, and Bartlett have not.

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 11:59 p.m. ET.

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, which takes place at Busch Stadium on July 14, 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.

In-stadium balloting at Tropicana Field will begin May 15 and close on June 28.

Bill Chastain 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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