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06/16/09 12:00 PM ET

Tex picking up speed toward St. Louis

Hustling first baseman in close second; A-Rod gains ground

NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira provided a great lesson for Little Leaguers everywhere on Friday, when he put his head down and ran hard with two outs on a routine popup. Sometimes good things happen with hustle, like Luis Castillo's unforgettable Subway Series error.

That effort is the mark of an All-Star caliber player, and it should be no surprise that for the second successive week, Teixeira is right in the mix among American League first basemen in balloting for the July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.

Here's a new Yankees-Red Sox battle for you: Will it be 'Tex' or 'Youk' at first base in St. Louis? Boston's Kevin Youkilis has pulled ahead of Teixeira this week by the slimmest of margins, just over 1,000 votes.

"What stands out is Mark Teixeira's hustle," said Alex Rodriguez, who hit the sky-high pop fly that eluded the Mets' second baseman. "That wins the game. To me, that's why he's my MVP of the American League right now. He's doing everything. That kind of hustle is indicative of what Mark Teixeira brings to our team."

If Teixeira's push is a success for what would be only his second All-Star Game (2004 was the first) he'd join Derek Jeter as a positional leader for the Midsummer Classic. Jeter continues to pace the way at shortstop by a wide margin, garnering support to punch his ticket to what would be his 10th appearance.

The Yankees captain said last summer that he would be fine with never making another All-Star Game as long as he played in the 2008 contest, but fans thus far have been receptive to sending him out for a return engagement. Jeter holds an early advantage over Jason Bartlett of the Rays and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers.

"Any time the fans vote for you and appreciate how you play the game, it means a lot," Jeter said. "I don't poll the people who are voting and ask them why they voted for me, but when people appreciate how you play the game, you just try to go out and play hard and be as consistent as possible. If they appreciate that, it means a lot."

Last year's overall leading vote-getter, A-Rod has closed to second place among AL third baseman, having surpassed Michael Young of the Rangers, though he is still well behind Evan Longoria of the Rays.

Robinson Cano holds firm in third place among AL second basemen, needing to jump the Rangers' Ian Kinsler and Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Jorge Posada remains in third place among AL catchers, trailing Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Boston's Jason Varitek. Johnny Damon has inched up to sixth among AL outfielders.

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 11:59 p.m. ET.

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.

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