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Matsui takes lead in Final Vote
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07/06/2004  7:43 PM ET
Matsui takes lead in Final Vote
Left fielder in line to join six teammates in Houston
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NEW YORK -- In many ways, Hideki Matsui is as deserving of All-Star status as his six Yankees teammates already chosen to participate in the 75th Midseason Classic.

Matsui's legion of wired international fans seem to agree, as the Bombers' left fielder leads the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote Program, with a day remaining to cast votes on MLB.com.

With over 5 million online votes cast in the first two days of the program, Matsui has the lead on a pair of Chicago White Sox teammates running neck-and-neck, Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko.

   Hideki Matsui  /   LF
Born: 06/12/74
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

Lew Ford of the Twins and Travis Hafner of the Indians round out the ballot for the 32nd berth on the American League All-Star team.

Now in its third year, the Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The winners will be announced at 9 p.m. ET exclusively on MLB.com and will then be added to the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and 32nd man, will have yet another opportunity to make themselves heard with the return of the Ameriquest All-Star Game MVP Vote. Beginning in the sixth inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 13, fans can cast their vote for the player they believe deserves to win the Ted Williams Award for being the game's Most Valuable Player. The fan vote counts for 20 percent of the decision on which player wins the award, with the media accounting for the other 80 percent.

2004 All-Star Game

Matsui is campaigning to become the seventh Yankees player on the squad. He would join three quarters of the starting infield -- third baseman Alex Rodriguez, shortstop Derek Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi -- and outfielder Gary Sheffield, along with relievers Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera.

Matsui, who entered Tuesday night's game against the Tigers batting .279 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs, rates favorably as a run-producer with Sheffield (54 RBIs) and A-Rod (53).

"The numbers I like are the RBIs and the home runs -- especially the RBIs," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who also would be Matsui's All-Star skipper. "They are right in line with knocking in 100-plus runs.

"Where he sits in the lineup [usually, in the six-hole], it's probably more important for him to knock in runs and score runs."

Matsui, an All-Star starter as a rookie in 2003, again was among the outfield leaders in this year's popular vote until being overtaken by Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. Now, he has embraced this second opportunity.

"If I'm chosen, I'd be honored to be a part of the All-Star team," Matsui said. "I don't think everybody in Japan will vote for me, but a certain number of them probably will."

Certainly, a large number of them apparenly already have.

Tom Singer 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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