ST. PETERSBURG -- Ben Zobrist has a chance to become the fourth Rays player to head to the 2011 Midsummer Classic, as he was announced as one of the five American League Final Vote candidates during the MLB All-Star Selection Show Presented by Taco Bell on Sunday afternoon.
"I think it's pretty neat just to be considered for the team again," Zobrist said. "We'll see what happens."
Now in its 10th year, the All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Zobrist has 40 extra-base hits. In addition, he led the Major League with 27 doubles entering Sunday's action. He made the AL All-Star team in 2009, which was his only selection.
"It's been a lot of line drives and it's been both corners of the field," said Rays manager Joe Maddon about Zobrist's doubles. "... It really comes down to hitting the ball hard consistently. That's why good hitters are good hitters. And I think he's been making more consistent hard contact."
The Rays are doing their part, partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks and their National League Final Vote candidate, right-hander Ian Kennedy. Fans of both clubs are encouraged to use hashtags #VoteIanIn and #HelpZoGo to build momentum for both players. But Rays fans will need to get busy voting if they want Zobrist to join teammates James Shields, David Price, and Matt Joyce at the All-Star Game.
"I'm excited for the guys who made it, you know," Zobrist said. "Joycie and Shields especially, since they've never made it before. It's going to be a really fun experience for them."
The other four AL Final Vote candidates are Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones, Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon, Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko, and Tigers DH/catcher Victor Martinez.
"I've definitely had some things go well for me this year, but I feel like I can play better than I've been playing," Zobrist said. "... I just think of it like this, if you're playing well, it's icing on the cake if you get a chance to go to the All-Star Game. Fortunately, I've had some spots this year where I've played really well. And there's been some other times where I haven't played so well. The goal is just consistency so your team knows what you're getting every time you go out there."
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. Example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 10-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 9-19. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 8 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Zobrist is the fourth Rays player to make the Final Vote fan ballot, joining Carl Crawford (2005), Evan Longoria ('08) and Carlos Pena ('09).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.