'Pitch in for Pat' in the Final Vote

'Pitch in for Pat' in the Final Vote

NEW YORK -- A box arrived in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Monday afternoon, and all of the Twins gathered around to see what was inside.

What they found was a shipment of gray T-shirts in the box, bearing the slogan in big blue letters "Pitch in for Pat: Vote Neshek!"

Suddenly, the entire club was decked out in T-shirts and trying to help promote the new campaign of their teammate.

Neshek is one of five candidates for this year's Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote for the American League, and the T-shirts were part of a promotion by the Twins to help elect Neshek to his first All-Star Game in just his second season with the club.

The Twins' side-arming reliever was quite surprised by the entire campaign.

"That was awesome," Neshek said with a huge smile. "That's pretty neat, when your teammates get behind you like that, and hopefully they will spread the word."

Neshek certainly has the support of his teammates. Twins backup catcher Mike Redmond walked around the clubhouse and jokingly encouraged everyone to use the computer in the clubhouse to log as many votes as possible.

The hope now is to get the word out to fans to vote for Neshek. Competing with Neshek for the Final Vote selection to become the 32nd man on the American League squad will be Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, Angels right-hander Kelvim Escobar, Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, and Red Sox lefty reliever Hideki Okajima.

Neshek is currently ranked third in the voting behind Bonderman and Okajima.

Fans have the opportunity to vote online at www.twinsbaseball.com and fans can also vote for Neshek from a mobile phone by texting A4 to 36197 (with standard rate messaging fees being applied). Voting is taking place now through 5 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 5. Winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Already attracting a large fan following on his blog, Neshek has been using the Internet as a big source of his voting campaign. Neshek knows he will have plenty of competition, not only from the Japanese voters pushing for Okajima, but from the big market candidates like those from Boston, L.A. and Detroit. But despite not being a name that is well known outside of the Twin Cities and the baseball world, Neshek feels that getting access via his blog will help.

Despite the Web site undergoing a restructuring at a less than ideal time, Neshek made sure that at least one message was placed on it to let his fans know what's going on.

"I was able to get a hold of one of the guys that work there and sent him an e-mail with what I wanted him to put up there, and he did," Neshek said. "This is the worst time for me not to be able to log on, but at least the fans can talk on the message board, and it seems like they are voting a lot."

It's certainly been a whirlwind 24 hours for Neshek. The side-armer, who just days before was hardly known outside of Minnesota, has known suddenly been inundated with national attention.

Neshek did three national radio interviews on Monday, including Sirius Satellite radio, ESPN radio and MLB radio. His day also included talking to a writer from the Boston Globe and doing a few interviews for other media back in the Twin Cities.

All of it seems a small price to Neshek for the chance to be in San Francisco and be a part of such a special event.

"I told the people on my Web site that I'd blog twice a day and try to get as much freebies from the game and give them away," Neshek said. "Who knows, it's not easy to do this on short notice, but I just hope we can get everybody in the state of Minnesota to vote. If we get all of them, I might have a chance."

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