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05/31/05 2:00 PM ET

Rangers infielders solid in early results

Core group among leaders for All-Star Game consideration

ARLINGTON -- Alfonso Soriano's fan popularity is showing up again.

Soriano, the top All-Star Game vote-getter in 2004 and the game's MVP in Houston, is a close second among American League second basemen in the latest balloting for the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit on July 12.

With 432,011 votes, Soriano trails the Orioles' Brian Roberts (433,461) by a mere 1,450 votes.

Soriano has bounced back from a torn left hamstring which he suffered last September in Oakland and limited his offseason work. He entered Tuesday's game ranked second in the AL in homers (14), third in runs (40), fourth in total bases (115) and tied for second in doubles (15).

Soriano is ahead of Mark Bellhorn of Boston, Tony Womack of the Yankees and Bret Boone of the Mariners in balloting at the second base position.

Three of the four Rangers infielders made the All-Star team in '04 and all four are in the running for All-Star honors this year.

First baseman Mark Teixeira ranks fourth in the balloting, behind Tino Martinez of New York, Kevin Millar of Boston and Paul Konerko of Chicago. Teixeira, the AL Player of the Week for May 16-22, is the reigning Silver Slugger Award winner in the AL.

Shortstop Michael Young and third baseman Hank Blalock are also prominent in early balloting.

Young, who had a banner season in 2004, when he recorded a club-record 216 hits, hit .383 over a recent 12-game stretch and continues to provide smooth and steady defensive play in the middle of the infield. Young ranks fifth in the shortstop balloting, behind Miguel Tejada of Baltimore, Derek Jeter of the Yankees, Edgar Renteria of Boston and Carlos Guillen of Detroit.

Blalock, a two-time All-Star and key contributor to the AL's win in the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field, ranks fifth in the balloting at third, behind Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, Bill Mueller of Boston, Adrian Beltre of Seattle and Melvin Mora of Baltimore.

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