Rays fans can cast Final Vote for Pena
Powerful first baseman could claim final AL roster spot
ARLINGTON -- Ever since Carlos Pena's arrival to the Rays, he has been a huge fan favorite at Tropicana Field. Now Rays fans will have a chance to repay their beloved first baseman by casting a vote either online or on your cell phone for him to make this year's All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
"I would love to be on the All-Star team. That is the dream of any baseball player, to be part of that ballclub," Pena said. "Hopefully I will be."
The AL squad already contains four Rays position players in Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist. Should Pena be elected, the Rays would have their entire infield represented on the team. Zobrist has been the team's regular second baseman ever since Akinori Iwamura went on the disabled list earlier in the season.
"That would be really cool to have our whole infield," Pena said.
Now in its eighth year, the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting, exclusively on MLB.com, began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 9. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Pena is one of five American Leaguers to compete for the final spot on the squad. Joining Pena on the ballot are Adam Lind, Toronto, Ian Kinsler of the Rangers, Chone Figgins of the Angels and Brandon Inge of the Tigers.
Pena enters Sunday as the American League's leading home run hitter with 23, and he also leads the league with 54 walks and is fifth with 58 runs.
Pena smiled when asked if he planned to vote for himself.
"Oh, yeah, I'm going to be the No. 1 vote-giver so I can be the No. 1 vote-getter," he said.
Even though Pena's status is up in the air regarding whether he makes the team or not, he called Sunday a "good day for the Rays just as it is now."
"I think Rays fans should be very proud of our representation on the All-Star team, it's quite amazing," Pena said. "It just shows how far we've come. I think we should all be very proud of that."
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 80th 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.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.