Hawpe hoping for first All-Star selection
Helton, Atkins, Tulo also on Midsummer Classic ballot
PHOENIX -- Right fielder Brad Hawpe has been arguably the Rockies' best offensive player this season.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Hawpe had more "quality at-bats" -- hits, deep counts or productive outs -- than any Rockies player in the early part of the season. And he's resourceful. On Wednesday against the D-backs' Dan Haren, with the defense shifted to the right side, Hawpe dropped his first bunt single of the season.
Hawpe also could have a shot at another first -- his first selection to the All-Star Game. Online voting began Wednesday. 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 9:59 p.m. MT.
Hawpe is not focused on individual accomplishments, or even on winning the quality at-bat championship. It's just doing well with one at-bat, then the next.
"I don't think about that," Hawpe said. "I just think you're going up there to help the team. If you go up there each time thinking about that, you end up having more quality at-bats than if you go up there worrying about it."
The bunt was an odd treat. But Hurdle enjoys what Hawpe usually does -- make the ball soar.
"It's something we've talked about since he came in -- he's got natural lift," Hurdle said. "Some players have it. The first player I ever saw that caught my eye was Ken Griffey Jr. That ball down to belt-high, there's some natural lift there. It's just a swing he's grown up with, he's confident with it, and he's effective with it."
Will that be enough to get Hawpe elected to his first All-Star Game?
Starting rosters for the 80th Midsummer Classic, which will take place July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, 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.
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.
This could be a year for new Rockies blood in the All-Star Game.
In the past three Midsummer Classics, the only position player representing the Rockies was left fielder Matt Holliday, who was traded to the Athletics in the offseason. The only two current Rockies to appear in an All-Star Game were first baseman Todd Helton (2000-04) and right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook (2008).
In addition to Hawpe and Helton, the ballot includes a couple of players expected to have an impact, even though they're not off to great starts -- third baseman Garrett Atkins and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.