Five Rangers in position to start in Midsummer Classic

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 05, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Starting a fifth straight All-Star Game would hardly be a surprise development for Josh Hamilton, especially after it was revealed Tuesday that he is baseball's leading vote-getter for the 83rd Midsummer Classic.

For Hamilton to be joined by four other teammates in the starting lineup, though, would be unexpected. But, after one round of balloting, it's entirely possible.

Hamilton is one of five Texas Rangers players who would be in the American League starting lineup if initial trends hold through the end of voting later this month.

"That's cool," Hamilton said Tuesday before the Rangers played Oakland in a late game on the West Coast.

"We've got a good team. We've got guys that are playing well. I don't expect that to change. I expect it to get better."

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, second baseman Ian Kinsler and catcher Mike Napoli lead voting at their positions. Right fielder Nelson Cruz is third in the outfield, where the top three vote-getters earn starts.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus and designated hitter Michael Young are second in voting.

The Cardinals and Yankees are the only other teams with multiple starters after Round 1, with two apiece.

The Rangers also have more fans than just about any other team in the game, which the would-be starters recognized. Only Philadelphia had a higher attendance average than the 43,452 the Rangers have averaged through 26 home dates.

But players also have noticed more Rangers fans in visiting ballparks. The blue and red has been easy to pick out this season, especially through the first two games at O.co Coliseum.

"We definitely notice that," said Kinsler, who leads Robinson Cano by some 280,000 votes. "It's a good feeling coming to ballparks on the road and seeing people in Rangers shirts and hats."

Beltre said the more Rangers, the better. The coaching staff, led by manager Ron Washington, will oversee the AL team by virtue of going to the World Series last year.

Home-field advantage in the Fall Classic goes to the winning league, something the Rangers haven't had the past two years. They want to do their part to ensure the AL team has it in 2012.

"No one said it, but that could be a reason we lost the World Series," Beltre said.

Fans have until June 22 to cast their ballots at ballparks and can vote online at mlb.com until June 28. The rosters will be revealed July 1 for the July 10 game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Hamilton is virtually a shoo-in to be elected -- he has nearly 2.6 million votes, or nearly 1.2 million more than second-place Curtis Granderson -- but he will not participate in the Home Run Derby.

He said he was approached to be the captain of the AL's derby team but declined. In the same breath, he told officials he didn't want to compete.

He has done so only once, when he hit a record 28 homers in the first round in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. To participate again is risking an injury, he said.

"I play major league baseball, but I work for the Texas Rangers," Hamilton said. "I understand they need me healthy, and I want to be healthy for them. I would love to go out there and hit as many home runs as I can. I enjoyed doing it. I had fun doing it. It's not fair to go out there and do something for myself and possibly get injured."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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