Morneau seeks return trip to All-Star Game
Slugging first baseman heads list of Twins on ballot
MINNEAPOLIS -- Last July, Justin Morneau stole the show during the final All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium.The Twins' first baseman won his first Home Run Derby title by beating out Josh Hamilton in the final round of the event. And the following night, Morneau ensured home-field advantage for the American League in the World Series by scoring the game-winning run in the 15th inning of the longest All-Star Game in history.
It's a performance that would be difficult to top, but Morneau would love to get the opportunity to try at this year's Midsummer Classic on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.Morneau is making a strong push for his third straight All-Star nomination. After the first two weeks of the season, he is among the Twins leaders in batting average, home runs, doubles, RBIs, total bases, and slugging percentage. The first baseman is one of eight Twins listed on this year's All-Star ballot, which was released Wednesday. Joining Morneau are second baseman Alexi Casilla, shortstop Nick Punto, third baseman Joe Crede, catcher Joe Mauer and outfielders Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young. 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. With this year's All-Star game taking place at a National League park, there is no designated hitter, which means that Jason Kubel is not on the ballot. Kubel certainly looks to be one of the Twins most deserving candidates as he ranks near the top of all the offensive categories with Morneau. Another deserving candidate who was not on the ballot for Minnesota is outfielder Denard Span. With the Twins having four outfielders for three spots, Span was the odd man left out in terms of the ballot. But Span has also gotten off to a strong start as the club's leadoff hitter, batting close to .300 in the first two weeks of the season and ranking near the top in hits, RBIs, stolen bases and on-base percentage for the Twins. 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. For those fans who prefer the traditional ballot, in-stadium voting at the Metrodome begins on Monday and will take place at all home games until June 18. Of the Twins on the 2009 ballot, only three have previous All-Star Game experience -- including Morneau. Mauer was voted the starting catcher at last year's All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium, his second appearance at the event after going in '06. Crede was selected to make the trip to the Midsummer Classic for the first time last year, when he was a member of the White Sox.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.