CHICAGO -- The White Sox All-Star contingency for 2014 could have a definite Cuban connection, at least based on the first round of American League fan balloting released on Tuesday afternoon.
Alexei Ramirez, who has been the AL's best overall shortstop through the first two months of the season, sits second in the voting behind Derek Jeter, with Jeter's vote total at 602,525 and Ramirez's at 472,537. The Yankees legend, who was honored by the White Sox on Sunday, is playing in his final of 20 accomplished big league seasons.
Jose Abreu (367,617) ranks third at first base, sitting behind only the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (440,407) and the Angels' Albert Pujols (371,193). Abreu's impact has been felt not only in Chicago but around Major League Baseball after coming to the White Sox via a six-year, $68 million free agent deal.
Abreu has been out of action since May 18 with inflammation in his left ankle, although he is making strides toward a return on June 2, when he can come off the disabled list. Yet, the talented hitter still ranks second in the AL with his 15 homers and tied for second with his 42 RBIs. He ranks seventh with a .908 OPS and has been a key figure in the Chicago's '14 resurgence.
Ramirez has never been selected as an All-Star in his seven previous seasons, but he arguably has been the team MVP this season. He leads all AL shortstops in average (.320), homers (seven), RBIs (36), slugging percentage (.483), OPS (.838) and hits (65).
"For me, it would be a tremendous honor to be able to participate, to be recognized for putting in hard work and doing everything I've done to get here," said Ramirez through interpreter and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez. "I absolutely watch it. I think it's fun, especially last year with [Cuban outfielder Yoenis] Cespedes playing in the game. These are the best players in baseball.
"It's not really if I think I deserve it. It's our play on the field and performance as a team, that's what deserves any type of recognition. I try to just let my play and let our performance on the field say whether or not we deserve anything.
"This is the best first two months I've had with the White Sox, the best start I've had. But I think that's just a testament to the hard work and the dedication and the support of the coaches, specifically [White Sox assistant hitting coach] Harold Baines, whom I've worked hard with in the recent past."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 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, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The AL will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, you can select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Choose again at that point from among five players in each league. The Final Vote returns for its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast to date, and you'll be able to make selections on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile device.
You'll be on a voting tear at that point, having already selected starters and the last men, and the ritual will not end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the big game, vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi. The fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.