Mauer in impressive first-base race on All-Star ballot

Listed at position for first time, Midsummer Classic's ambassador in elite group

Mauer in impressive first-base race on All-Star ballot

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer has already been named the official ambassador for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, which will be held at Target Field on July 15, but he now faces stiff competition at first base as he aims for a seventh All-Star Game appearance.

The ballots were officially released for the American and National Leagues on Friday, with Mauer listed as a first baseman for the first time in his career.

Mauer, a six-time All-Star, was voted as a starter for the fourth time as a catcher last season, but he competing alongside the likes of top first basemen in the American League such as Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Albert Pujols. Mauer made the switch to first base this season after suffering a season-ending concussion last August.

Mauer is also off to an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, hitting .264/.373/.322 with a homer and two doubles in 21 games entering Friday. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's not concerned about Mauer's production early in the year.

"I worry about a lot of things, but he's not one of them," Gardenhire said. "He can hit. A long time ago I quit worrying about that guy. He knows what he's doing."

With Mauer listed as a first baseman for the Twins, Kurt Suzuki is listed as catcher. It leads to two notable omissions for the Twins, as first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello and catcher Josmil Pinto were both left off the ballot.

"We had to turn the names in for it in Spring Training," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "I had to turn in the ballot and just looked at how I thought we were gonna line up at the end of Spring Training. We were looking at Colabello as a platoon or a bat off the bench. So no disrespect to him. It's a tremendous credit to him, he's taken advantage of his at-bats. And same with Pinto."

Designated hitter Jason Kubel, second baseman Brian Dozier and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who are off to hot starts, are among nine Minnesota players on the ballot. Twins fans can fill ballots at Target Field starting April 25 until June 7.

Other Twins on the ballot are shortstop Pedro Florimon and outfielders Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham.

Fans can also cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.

Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. CT on July 14.

The 2014 National League and AL All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.