Pujols right at home on All-Star ballot

Pujols right at home on All-Star ballot

ST. LOUIS -- It just wouldn't seem right to have an All-Star Game in St. Louis without baseball's best player, Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols. Fans can now help ensure that Pujols makes the club.

Balloting began Wednesday for the 2009 All-Star Game, which will take place at Busch Stadium on July 14. Pujols has been an All-Star in seven of his eight big league seasons. He's certainly doing his part to merit selection again, off to a hot start along with several of his teammates in the St. Louis lineup.

Pujols and Ryan Ludwick were the Cardinals' All-Stars in 2008, and they're both back on the ballot in '09. Pujols has been voted to the All-Star team three times, as an outfielder in 2003 and a first baseman in 2004 and 2006. He's also been in the starting lineup as the designated hitter twice, in '05 and '08.

"It would mean a lot to me and my family," Pujols said. "I've been in seven All-Star Games, but this year, if I get the opportunity to represent the Cardinals in the Midsummer Classic, it would be extra special in front of our fans."

One thing Pujols has never experienced is a victory in the All-Star Game. He's looking forward to a chance to change that.

"I know it's an exhibition game, but it means a lot," Pujols said. "I'm real excited. Hopefully I can get the opportunity to make the club and try to do the best that I can to help the National League win. ... Hopefully we can end that losing streak. The American League is killing us."

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.

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.

In addition to online voting, in-stadium balloting runs through the Sunday, June 7 game against the Rockies.

Along with Pujols, of course, several other Cardinals will be hoping to appear in their home All-Star Game. Yadier Molina is still looking for his first bid, and coming off a Gold Glove Award and a career year at the plate, he's surely never had a better shot at appearing in the Midsummer Classic. The Cards' new double-play combination of Skip Schumaker and Khalil Greene will each be gunning for an All-Star debut.

In the outfield, the Cardinals were limited to three submissions. They went with incumbent All-Star Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan. Any fans who hope to see Colby Rasmus playing in the All-Star Game will have to write him in. And at third base, it's a bit of bad timing. David Freese, sent down on Tuesday, is the Cardinals' representative at third. So as with Rasmus, any votes for Joe Thurston or Brian Barden will need to be of the write-in variety.

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