Liriano needs your help to reach ASG

Liriano needs your help to reach ASG

MINNEAPOLIS -- Plenty of opposing hitters have been wowed by Twins southpaw Francisco Liriano, but now the question is whether the rookie pitcher has impressed enough fans, as well.

Liriano will count on the fans to earn an All-Star bid in his first season. He was selected among five American League players as part of the 2006 All-Star Final Vote.

"Liriano is on the list, so we need everyone to get on that Internet and vote," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Just keep firing away and let's get him in that ballgame, too. He deserves to be an All-Star. I think we've all seen that."

Now in its fifth year, the 2006 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team.  Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 5 p.m. CT Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can also text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote Candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 28776.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on

The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

After beginning the year in the Twins' bullpen, Liriano officially made a name for himself once he joined the club's starting rotation. Going 8-1 with a 1.53 ERA in nine starts, Liriano has proved to dominate lineups as he has held opponents to just a .161 batting average.

At just 22 years old, Liriano's strong changeup and slider have many comparing him to teammate Johan Santana. Players like Pittsburgh's Sean Casey describe his pitches as "nasty as I've ever seen."

Gardenhire began rallying for Liriano right away, but he wasn't the only Twin to do so. Luis Castillo wandered around the clubhouse following Sunday's game -- in which Liriano delivered an eight-inning shutout against the Brewers -- recruiting other players to submit their votes online, as well.

"I'm voting for him, are you?" Castillo questioned nearby reporters.

Competing with Liriano for the Final Vote selection will be Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez, Indians first baseman Travis Hafner, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

The Twins have had a Final Vote candidate in each of the past two seasons, as Torii Hunter was nominated in 2005 and Lew Ford in 2004. But neither player tallied enough votes to be selected.

Hunter knows how players campaigning for a teammate can help, as witnessed by Scott Podsednik of the White Sox earning his way to the Mid-Summer Classic last year.

"I wish I had got on the P.A. and told everybody to vote just like Chicago, I think Paul Konerko did that for Scott Podsednik last year and he got in," Hunter said. "But I hope Liriano gets in. A lot of people know who he is and he's deserving of it."

For Liriano, the opportunity was one he didn't expect, but he was still excited to have an opportunity to earn a nod to the All-Star Game.

"I want to go, who doesn't?" Liriano said with a smile. "But I really don't think about it much. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing."

Seems like the campaigning will have to be left up to others in the Twins clubhouse.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.