Swisher has early AL Final Vote lead

Swisher has early AL Final Vote lead

OAKLAND -- Nick Swisher heard the buzz spilling from his Bleacher Creatures in right field at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, shortly after Major League Baseball announced nearly all of the participants for the July 13 All-Star Game in Anaheim.

Swisher's name was not among them, even though his most loyal fans were crying out from the grandstands, saying they'd voted to get Swisher into the American League starting outfield for the game.

He came up about 350,000 votes shy, but thanks to the Final Vote campaign, Swisher still has a chance to get his pinstripes to Angel Stadium.

"I was like, 'Well, you're going to have to vote for me again!'" Swisher said. "It's just great, man. It's such a great place to play. It goes to show you how loyal our fans are."

Swisher is off to a good start, leading all five AL Final Vote candidates at the first checkpoint of numbers provided by MLB on Monday. With more than 10 million ballots already cast, Swisher and the Reds' Joey Votto -- on the National League ballot -- are in the lead, though Boston's Kevin Youkilis isn't far behind Swisher.

Michael Young of the Rangers, Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Delmon Young of the Twins are also looking to be the 34th and final men added to the AL ballot. With six other Yankees teammates already as All-Stars, Swisher is hoping the fans will keep making good use of their unlimited votes.

"I see all of these guys going and I want to go, too," Swisher said. "I think it would mean so much extra now because it's up to the fans. I think I've generated a pretty good rapport here with the fans of New York.

"There'd be nothing more that I'd want to do than represent them in the All-Star Game. I think it'd be amazing. I get excited about it, because I've never had this opportunity before. To be 29 and finally start to think things out, it'd be a blessing."

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint 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. Message and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the 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 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Swisher earned plenty of consideration for a starting role on the team, though in the end, his 1,883,695 votes were not enough to catch starters Josh Hamilton (2,840,816), Ichiro Suzuki (2,554,564) and Carl Crawford (2,235,597). Swisher placed fifth among AL outfielders, also trailing Nelson Cruz (2,011,770).

While his fun-loving salutes and personable demeanor have won him many fans, Swisher's on-field performance has also demanded attention. He has been money when it counts this year, entering play Monday with a .361 (48-for-133) batting average with runners on base, third best in the AL.

He's also figured out how to hit for power in the Bronx, something that eluded him in 2009. Swisher has seven homers already at Yankee Stadium this year and only hit eight all last season, waiting until Sept. 29 to belt his seventh blast of '09. And teams should think twice about running on Swisher, who entered play Monday tied for third in the AL with six outfield assists, tying a career high.

The Yankees are doing their part to help Swisher's case, plastering the Stadium scoreboard with "Send Swish!" button graphics on Sunday and promoting his candidacy by offering tickets to an upcoming home game and a Swisher autographed baseball to lucky participants who cast their votes by 4 p.m. Thursday.

"It would just be such an honor for me, to be in my sixth year and to be able to get my first All-Star appearance," Swisher said. "It would mean the world to me and my family, and not only that, but to be able to represent your team and your city.

"This city has been nothing but great to me. I have an opportunity, and hopefully, my Creatures get everybody to vote on that last spot. It's something I'd be really excited for."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.