ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander Kyle McClellan threw on Tuesday for the first time since straining his right elbow six weeks ago. It marks the beginning of a four-week throwing program that is expected to potentially have him available by August.

McClellan played catch at a distance of about 60 feet and made about 40 throws. He said afterward that his elbow feels great and that he was able to throw a little harder than he had anticipated.

"When it's that short, it's easy to kind of cut it off," McClellan said. "So in order to do that, you have to kind of throw a little harder, and I was perfectly happy with it."

McClellan said there is a vague plan in place for his throwing program, which is subject to change depending on how he progresses. He expects to do two weeks of long toss, a week of bullpen sessions and then a week of batting practice.

For now he will take a day off after each throwing session and continue to build strength in his elbow.

"The throwing process, the way it was explained to me, is important, because it's still a healing process," he said. "You're throwing, and the body is sending stuff to heal to the elbow. It's not like you can just skip over and push through. It's still a part of the building-up phase."

Manager Mike Matheny is happy to see McClellan as excited and pleased as he is.

"No matter what you're coming back from, with that state of mind, you're going to recover quicker," Matheny said.

Freese leads Final Vote with Chipper on squad

ST. LOUIS -- On Tuesday morning, when the first updates on the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Firestone were released, David Freese was in second place, trailing only Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. But by the afternoon, Freese was in first.

Jones has been selected to replace injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on the National League roster for the All-Star Game, being played in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on July 10, leaving Freese the top vote-getter on the NL Final Vote ballot.

"If Chipper wins, that's awesome," Freese had said early on Tuesday before Jones was chosen. "He's a guy I've looked up to ever since he came into this league. For him in his last year, it'd be cool to see him go to Kansas City."

Freese is ahead of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn. Freese hasn't been paying much attention to the voting or the results, but he is sure his family and friends are accounting for a good number of his votes.

"Whoever wins it, everybody's deserving in this group," he said.

To receive the mobile ballot, text "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Freese, simply text "N2" to 89269. Mobile voting in Canada also is available; fans should text their choices to 101010. Standard rates may apply.

The Cardinals have been doing their part to get Freese to the All-Star Game, making an especially strong push on Twitter. The team's official account, @Cardinals, is using the hashtag #FreesePlease to increase the number of votes and is also reminding followers to vote every 23 minutes after the hour.

Freese's teammates, most notably Jon Jay and Jason Motte, have been encouraging their followers to vote, as well.

The Cardinals' official Facebook page is counting down the Top 23 reasons to vote for Freese, including his record-setting 21 RBIs in the 2011 postseason.

"Are there 23 reasons?" Freese joked when asked about the list. "No, absolutely not. I couldn't get that far."

Freese went 1-for-4 against the Rockies on Tuesday, one day after putting up his fifth three-hit game of the season. He is batting .347 in his last 20 games and has been held hitless three times over that span.