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Tigers supporting Inge's Final Vote bid

Tigers support Inge's Final Vote bid

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DETROIT -- Brandon Inge is off to a strong start in online balloting for the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote, ranking second behind Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler for the last spot on the American League roster for the Midsummer Classic.

The tally includes the early results in balloting that began Sunday and runs through Thursday at 4 p.m. ET at MLB.com and tigers.com. To help try to put Inge over the top, the Tigers are planning a major push for votes at Comerica Park during their three-game series against the Royals on Monday through Wednesday.

This eighth annual All-Star Game Final Vote allows fans to decide the 33rd and final roster spot for the American and National Leagues leading up to the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Fans also can vote again by mobile device -- exclusive in the U.S. to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555.

The Tigers put their marketing effort in full effect Monday, releasing promotional posters, a video message from teammate Curtis Granderson encouraging fans to vote, and putting a computer on the Comerica Park concourse where fans can place their vote.

Those who vote at the ballpark receive an Inge poster, while everyone who votes for Inge at tigers.com will be automatically entered in a drawing for an Inge autographed bat.

It's a new spot for Inge, who said Monday he has never won an election for anything in his life.

"Class clown, maybe," he said.

Inge's Tigers teammates began their support soon after the Final Vote candidates were released Sunday afternoon.

"I believe wholeheartedly that he should go," said second-time All-Star Justin Verlander, one of the beneficiaries of Inge's stellar defense at third base and a Final Vote candidate himself as a rookie in 2006. "He's one of the main catalysts for this team, and one of the main reasons why we're in first place right now. I think he's earned it."

Inge, meanwhile, was preparing for the possible change of plans for the All-Star break. He had scheduled a few days with his family along Michigan's west coast, but not surprisingly, he'll gladly adjust his itinerary to be in uniform at Busch Stadium on July 14 with teammates Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, and the best players in the league.

"The way I've always been is, I guess I prepare for the worst-case scenario so that I'm never really let down," Inge said. "But [the worst case is not terrible]."

While Inge has said he won't campaign, he made an early statement with his bat Sunday afternoon with a two-run homer that accounted for all of the Tigers' scoring in a 6-2 loss to the Twins at the Metrodome. It marked his 19th homer on the year, tying him for eighth in the AL alongside Kinsler and All-Star starting outfielder Jason Bay. Only Rays first baseman and former Tigers slugger Carlos Pena has more homers among the Final Vote candidates, while only Pena and Toronto's Adam Lind have a higher OPS on the ballot. Add in Inge's defense in what has been a potential Gold Glove Award-winning season for him at third base, and he has a solid case as a two-way player.

Once Miguel Cabrera found out he wasn't on the All-Star team, he turned his attention to supporting Inge.

"He deserves to go, absolutely," Cabrera said. "The numbers he's put up, he deserves to go over there. Nineteen home runs, almost 60 RBIs, Gold Glove, he deserves it."

Cabrera is going to be a little busy to try to stuff the online ballot box, as are the rest of the Tigers players. They're hoping a fan base that has supported them as the Tigers have attained one of the best home records in baseball can help them out once more. Tigers officials were meeting Monday to figure out how to drum up support at Comerica Park this week.

Recent history shows mixed results for those who have taken early leads in the Final Vote. Last year, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Brewers right fielder Corey Hart were the narrow leaders after the first day, and they went on to the Midsummer Classic at old Yankee Stadium. In 2007, Padres pitcher Chris Young led after the first update -- but early leader Jeremy Bonderman ultimately was overtaken by winner Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox.

In 2006, Nomar Garciaparra was the first announced leader, and he eventually won the selection. But it was Minnesota wunderkind pitcher Francisco Liriano who was the AL's leader through much of the early voting, only to be passed by winner A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox on the morning of the last day of voting.

Jason Beck 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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