07/01/07 7:45 PM ET
A-Rod tops all All-Star vote-getters
Yanks third baseman exceeds 3.8 million tallies with huge start
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The 31-year-old Rodriguez paced all players in contention to represent their clubs with 3,890,515 votes to appear at the annual Midsummer Classic, to be held on July 10 at AT&T Park.
"It's refreshing and great to see, and very humbling for be to be the No. 1 vote-getter in all of Major League Baseball," Rodriguez told MLB.com in a recent exclusive interview.
"To me, that's always been one of my goals. As a kid, I never missed an All-Star Game; it's such a fun game. I really enjoy it. Right now, it has tremendous ramifications with home-field advantage in the World Series, and it's something that I take tremendous privilege of receiving these votes."
Rodriguez cemented his place at third base for the American League with a torrid campaign that has seen him lead the Major Leagues in RBIs in two of the year's first three months.
The All-Star Game fan balloting drew a record 18.5 million ballots, as Rodriguez -- now an 11-time All-Star who has been fan-elected 10 times -- will journey to the exhibition as the leading vote-getter for the first time.
"It certainly is significant, because he's worked hard to get this," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "Last year, he went through a very tough year.
"To really be recognized for it, I know it makes [Rodriguez] feel good, and it should, because they've earned it. Alex has come a long way since last year, and I'm happy for him."
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised 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, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Rodriguez addressed his selection following the Yankees' 11-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, and though his enthusiasm was tempered, he was appreciative of his outpouring of support.
"It's hard to think about that right now, but it's a pretty neat experience," Rodriguez said. "It's a lot of votes, a lot of people. That's a lot of fans, so it's pretty cool."
Even as the Yankees have struggled through an underwhelming season, A-Rod has often been too much for opposing clubs to handle, batting .330 with 28 home runs and 79 RBIs as the calendar turns to July.
Rodriguez bade farewell to a memorable June, when he ranked first in the AL in RBIs (34), home runs (nine), slugging percentage (.781) and on-base percentage (.500). The month followed a tremendous splash in April, when Rodriguez rocketed to the top of the Major League leaderboard with 14 home runs, including several dramatic late-inning shots.
Yet Rodriguez is candidly honest when he admits that he would trade his current success if it would help the Yankees regain standing in the AL East.
"You feel personally like you're doing a nice job, but you can't really enjoy it because you're not winning ballgames," Rodriguez said.
The National League should beware come the festivities. Rodriguez was tied with his old Seattle Mariners teammate and the National League's vote leader, Ken Griffey Jr., for the Interleague lead with eight home runs this season and led the Majors with 23 RBIs, his numbers buoyed by a red-hot trip to San Francisco in late June.
And if the Midsummer Classic comes down to the late innings, no one should be surprised if A-Rod somehow manages to play the hero -- not with seven ninth-inning home runs already this season.
Rodriguez is careful not to reveal too much detail about what has made him such a resurgent presence at the plate, repeatedly insisting that he is just trying to keep things simple.
But A-Rod has been working hard as well; he's often one of the first Yankees players to report to the stadium and has spoken about the importance of being available to his teammates, particularly during stretches where losing may begin to hurt the club.
Perhaps, as he says, he has finally adjusted to playing in New York and all that goes along with it.
"I'm at that point, and I think I've let all distractions get out of the way and really focused on my game," Rodriguez said. "I really enjoy the game and don't worry about what's being written and what's being said. Critics are always going to be there. So are supporters."
More than 3 million of them, as it turns out.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.