Seven first-timers dot All-Star lineups
Red Sox place four AL starters; three Cubs to start for NL
The fans have voted. And this year's All-Star starters, now set to represent the National and American Leagues in the annual Midsummer Classic at Yankee Stadium on July 15, offer the best and brightest of Major League Baseball's veterans and talented younger set.From Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman to Chase Utley, Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun and Geovany Soto, it's the finest of the old and the new. Rodriguez, the third baseman for Yankees, was again the top overall vote-getter with 3,934,518. Last year, for the game in San Francisco, A-Rod also out polled all 16 elected starters with 3,890,515 votes.
Utley, the six-year second baseman with the Phillies and a .299 hitter this season with 24 homers and 67 RBIs, paced the NL with 3,889,602 votes.A record 214.7 million votes from 16.5 million ballots were cast online via MLB.com and the affiliate 30 club sites. The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the last to be played in the current Yankee Stadium -- which closes at the end of this season -- will be televised nationally by FOX, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. It will be shown live in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of next Sunday's XM All-Star Futures Game. As in recent years, the winner of the game will determine which league has home-field advantage in the World Series. The "This Time it Counts!" rule was implemented in 2003. The AL, which who has won 10 games in a row (not including the 2002 tie at Milwaukee), has enjoyed that advantage every postseason since. In the NL, it's the first appearances each for Soto and Kosuke Fukudome (both Cubs rookies), Braun, the Brewers' left-fielder, and Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins' shortstop. Around the horn are Berkman of the Astros at first, making his second start and fifth appearance; Utley at second, making his third consecutive start in as many appearances; Ramirez at short and Jones of the Braves at third, making his fifth start and sixth appearance. Soto is behind the plate. Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs, making his fifth start and seventh appearance, joins Fukudome and Braun in the outfield. Soriano, who is currently on the disabled list with a broken finger, has just begun taking batting practice and is doubtful for the game. Overall, three Cubs were voted in as starters, and no other NL squad had multiple starting selections. Over in the AL, the defending World Series champion Red Sox have four starters, while the Yankees have two. Three players were elected for the first time: Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox at first, Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox at second and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers in the outfield. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter joins teammate Rodriguez, holding down the left-side of the infield in their home park. Jeter is making his ninth start. Mauer of the Twins is making his second start in as many appearances behind the plate. The outfield includes old standbys Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, making his seventh start and eighth appearance since his arrival from Japan in 2001, and Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox, making his sixth start and 12th appearance. Hamilton, who is in his second season and first with Texas, rounds out the outfield. David Ortiz of the Red Sox was voted in as the DH, but he won't play because he's on the disabled list with a hand injury.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.