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Morneau needs fans to give All-Star boost

Morneau needs fans to give All-Star boost

MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau saw his streak of 319 consecutive games come to an end on Sunday, but his hope is that his streak of consecutive All-Star appearances won't be doing the same this July.

There are more than a few ways that Morneau can earn a spot in the All-Star Game for a third straight year -- such as the player ballot or a manager's selection. But if he is to earn his a starting nod -- his first -- in this year's Midsummer Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 14, he's going to need a big boost from fans over the next week.

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In the latest round of All-Star balloting results, Morneau remains in third place among American League first basemen, trailing Mark Teixeira (Yankees) and Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox). Rounding out the top 5 are Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) and Chris Davis (Rangers).

Morneau continues to rank right near the top of all AL first basemen in nearly every offensive category. He entered the week with his 57 RBIs ranking first, his .320 batting average ranking second and his 16 home runs tied for third. Teixeira, with 20, is ahead of him in home runs, and Cabrera is ahead of him in average (.333).

Though Morneau is pushing for a starting spot, the Twins appear on their way to having at least one player in the starting lineup for the second consecutive year, as Joe Mauer remains in first place among catchers. Trailing Mauer are Jason Varitek (Red Sox), Jorge Posada (Yankees), Jared Saltalamacchia (Rangers) and Victor Martinez (Indians).

Last year Mauer earned his first start behind the plate at the All-Star Game in New York after being voted in by the fans.

Mauer has continued to surprise everyone with his production since returning from the disabled list on May 1. This past week, he set a career high in home runs when he hit his 14th of the year, and through Sunday's contest he was batting .407 in 46 games.

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.

Kelly Thesier 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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