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Send Varitek to the All-Star Game
07/06/2003 4:50 PM ET
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    NEW YORK -- Jason Varitek arrived at Yankee Stadium on Sunday with a .300 average, 15 homers and 50 RBIs. Those are All-Star numbers for a catcher, especially one who bats ninth.

    But if Varitek is going to make the All-Star team for the first time, he is going to need all the support he can get from fans.

    The Red Sox catcher wasn't voted in as a starter, and he wasn't selected as a reserve. But he is still in the running.

    Varitek is one of the five American League nominees for the etopps All-Star Final Vote.

    He is joined on the ballot by the Yankees' Jason Giambi, Eric Byrnes of the A's, the Angels' Bengie Molina and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.

    Whoever lands the most votes will capture the 32nd and final slot on the AL All-Star team.

    Perhaps serving as a good omen for Varitek is the fact that Sox center fielder Johnny Damon landed the final AL slot in last year's inaugural Final Vote ballot.

    The five nominees in both leagues were nominated by 2003 All-Star Game managers Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia in conjunction with Major League Baseball. Fans can vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster here.

    The etopps All-Star Final Vote ends on Wednesday, July 9 at 6 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced on shortly thereafter.

    Varitek's All-Star candidacy has become a big topic around the Red Sox in recent weeks, mostly because his teammates appreciate his value to the team so much.

    A quarterback on defense and a clutch hitter on offense, Varitek is also a leader in the clubhouse.

    "He's unbelievable," Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra said. "He was great when I played with him (in college at Georgia Tech) and he's great now. You're never going to see a harder-working person than Varitek."

    Given the start he's off to, Varitek should easily surpass his career-highs of 20 homers and 76 RBIs. Fully recovered from his broken right elbow of two seasons ago, the gritty veteran has taken his game to the next level.

    "We had All-Star voting (two weeks ago) and he was one of my votes," Sox right-hander John Burkett said. "I put him in the All-Star Game. I think he is underrated. He does a great job here dealing with the pitchers and I truly think his first priority is preparing for the game. I think he is more prepared than any catcher in the game."

    Red Sox manager Grady Little whole-heartedly agrees with that assessment.

    "He's my All-Star," Little said recently. "I looked down the list and that was the only name I could think of to vote for. I think anyone that is watching games would see the value of this guy. Anybody. Anybody that considers themselves knowing the game. He is a very important factor here. He would be an important factor anywhere he is. And he has made himself that way. It didn't just happen. This guy is a hard worker and he is very intelligent."

    Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

    Cast your ballot in the etopps All-Star Final Vote

    This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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