Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria among leading vote-getters for AL All-Star team

CLEVELAND — Evan Longoria had to wait until the last minute to make the All-Star team last season, getting the last reserve spot due to a "Final Vote" online fan balloting.

This time, it looks as if there won't be as much drama for the reigning rookie of the year.

Longoria is leading all AL third basemen in All-Star votes — by nearly 400,000 — and is in a closely contested race with Yankees SS Derek Jeter to be the AL's top overall vote-getter.

Longoria, 23, who entered Wednesday leading the league in RBIs, is 570 votes behind Jeter — a nine-time All-Star — and his 664,060 votes give him a huge lead over Rangers 3B Michael Young (296,025) and the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez (245,414).

"That's awesome," Longoria said. "Obviously, like I always say, the personal stuff is a great thing to have, and it's very enjoyable for me, when I'm able go home and sit and relax and really think about it. You've got to thank the fans, and the team. You can't do it without the exposure this club is getting now with our year last year.

"Hopefully I get a chance to be there again, and (for) 10 more years, and we continue to play well."

Rays SS Jason Bartlett (233,482), who is having an All-Star caliber season (second in the AL in hitting at .373), has the fourth-most votes among AL shortstops; he trails Jeter (664,630), the Jays' Marco Scutaro (273,589) and the Rangers' Elvis Andrus (258,243).

Carl Crawford, a two-time All-Star, is the sixth-leading vote-getter among AL outfielders (260,325).

MEET JOE DILLON: INF Joe Dillon surely didn't see his Tuesday callup coming, having to step in when Bartlett was placed on the DL .

But Dillon, 33, also didn't see his early May trade from the A's coming, and it appears it could work out favorably for both him and the Rays.

Dillon made his Rays debut Wednesday as the DH.

Manager Joe Maddon said Dillon, who has spent parts of three seasons in the majors, can provide depth at first, second and third, as well as the corner outfield spots. Dillon, a right-handed hitter, has batted .400 with a 1.089 against left-handed pitchers heading into Wednesday's game.

"It's nice to get in the lineup, anytime," Dillon said. "Really, I've been kind of a bench player the last year and a half in Milwaukee. It's nice to get in there and help contribute and win some games."

LARGER ROLE: Maddon likes being able to spot utilitymen Ben Zobrist and Willy Aybar into different games. But with injuries to 2B Akinori Iwamura and Bartlett, Zobrist and Aybar will likely see more everyday roles, and Maddon wants to keep a watchful eye on how they're holding up.

"I love our bench, I think we have a great bench," Maddon said. "I also like playing the bench in a manner where they're not playing too often, and Zobrist I thought we had given him the right number of at-bats, and the same thing with Willy. And all of a sudden, you get more at-bats.

"There's a fatigue factor — I know it's early and I know they're young — I know all that stuff. But when you're not used to doing it for a while, it can present a bit of a problem."

MISCELLANY: Wednesday's game was delayed 1 hour, 55 minutes by rain. … Maddon planned to give C Dioner Navarro a day off Wednesday or today, so he had C Michel Hernandez start Wednesday. … RHP Chad Bradford had another rehab outing for Class A Charlotte Wednesday, giving up one hit in one scoreless inning and throwing 17 pitches. … Durham has placed INF Chris Richard (hamstring) on the seven-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, the Durham Herald-Sun reported.

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria among leading vote-getters for AL All-Star team 05/27/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2009 6:49am]

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