Bautista still in line for All-Star start

Bautista still in line for All-Star start

Bautista still in line for All-Star start
BOSTON -- Jose Bautista has a little bit more breathing room, but still finds himself in a tight race for a starting job at this year's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Bautista, who entered play on Monday night tied for the Major League lead in home runs with 23, currently sits third in fan voting among American League outfielders with 2,773,442 votes.

That ranks behind Texas' Josh Hamilton (7,310,824) and New York's Curtis Granderson (3,812,339), but ahead of Texas' Nelson Cruz (2,681,019) for the final starting spot.

Bautista got off to a relatively slow start to the season -- at least by his standards -- but has since turned things around. Toronto's right fielder entered his series against Boston with four home runs in his past six games, and since the start of May, he is batting .264 with 20 homers, 45 RBIs and a 1.013 OPS in 49 games.

The Dominican native set an MLB record last year for most fan votes received by one player. He finished with 7,454,753, which surpassed the previous high mark of 6,069,688, set by Seattle's Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1994.

Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion is not currently ranked in the top five among designated hitters, despite his breakout season at the plate. Encarnacion entered play Monday hitting .282 with 21 homers and 50 RBIs in 69 games this season.

Bautista and Encarnacion have combined to hit 44 home runs, which is the most by any duo in the Major Leagues. Chicago's Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn sit in second place with 36. It marks the first time since 2006 that two Toronto players have hit 20-plus homers each prior to July 1. Vernon Wells (20) and Troy Glaus (21) accomplished the feat during that 2006 campaign.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm 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 July 9.

The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 1 on the 2012 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 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote 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 2012 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 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 83rd 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 Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.