Slugging Napoli headlines Red Sox on ASG ballot

Slugging Napoli headlines Red Sox on ASG ballot

BOSTON -- Though several of the players the Red Sox acquired over the winter have paid immediate dividends, the one who has made the biggest impact is Mike Napoli.

An All-Star starter while playing for the Rangers last season, you can find Napoli at a different position on this year's All-Star ballot, which was released Wednesday.

For the first time in his career, Napoli is a first baseman on the All-Star ballot. The right-handed-hitting slugger is now playing that position exclusively for the Red Sox.

Without the toll that catching used to take on his body and mind, Napoli now has more energy to hit. And of late, he's been mashing. On Monday night at Fenway, Napoli belted a grand slam against the Oakland Athletics to take over the American League lead in RBIs.

"He's a very good hitter," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's got a long track record of extra-base and RBI production, but what he's done in this ballpark over the course of his career, those things are beacons when you look to select a player, and he's a very good fit here."

While Napoli's lone All-Star appearance came last season, his best year was 2011. And Napoli is feeling like his 2011 self at the plate these days.

"Last year, I really was up and down," said Napoli. "I didn't really feel like this last year. The way I feel right now is how I felt the whole second half of the year in 2011. I'm just trying to keep my routine the same, have that same feeling every day and see what happens."

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, July 4, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans may submit twenty-five (25) online ballots during the voting period, but can also earn a one-time bonus of ten (10) additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, visit www.mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Starting Thursday, Red Sox fans can fill out their ballots at Fenway Park for all home games through June 19.

Fans can also once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league whom they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2013 Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 15.

The 2013 AL and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 7, on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com on MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who had a three-homer game in Toronto on April 7, is on the ballot for the first time.

Shane Victorino started for the NL in the 2009 All-Star Game and returned as a reserve two years later. At least in the early going of his first season with the Red Sox, Victorino looks poised to return to that stage.

Playing in right field on a regular basis for the first time in his career, Victorino has been a standout, expertly handling the tricky dimensions of Fenway. He has also been a solid contributor from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is healthy and playing well this season, is vying for his second All-Star appearance in the last three years.

Left fielder Jonny Gomes is Boston's third outfielder on the ballot. Don't be surprised if Daniel Nava, who shares time with Gomes in left, gets his share of write-in ballots. Nava has been productive in the early part of the season, particularly when the game has been on the line.

Somehow, Dustin Pedroia, Boston's spark plug, hasn't been an All-Star the last two seasons. But the second baseman is off to a solid start and could gain his fourth All-Star berth this season.

Veteran Stephen Drew, a newcomer to Boston, is on the ballot at shortstop. Though he's had some solid seasons over the years, Drew has never been an All-Star.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was on the bubble when All-Star selections came out last year, but he fell short. The catcher is again on the ballot this year.

David Ortiz, who made his season debut on Saturday after his long battle back from right Achilles issues, is on the AL ballot at designated hitter. Big Papi is an eight-time All-Star and was Boston's lone representative last year.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.