Nomar hopes to win fans' Final Vote

Nomar hopes to win fans' Final Vote

ANAHEIM -- Nomar Garciaparra has cleared every hurdle in his comeback this year. To make his sixth All-Star appearance, he has one more hurdle to clear.

Garciaparra is the first Dodger to be among the five candidates in the All-Star Final Vote, competing with Bobby Abreu (Philadelphia), Chris Capuano (Milwaukee), Billy Wagner (New York) and Chris Young (San Diego) for the final roster spot on the National League team.

Now in its fifth year, the 2006 All-Star Final Vote 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 presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 3 p.m. PT Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote - online now at, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can also text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote Candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 28776.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and 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 Chevrolet at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on

The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 5 p.m. PT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

This would be the sixth selection for Garciaparra but the first at first base, the new position he agreed to play when he returned to his hometown team as a free agent after two years of Achillies tendon and groin muscle injuries. The quality of first basemen in the league -- Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Lance Berkman are already on the team -- left Garciaparra forced to earn a berth through the Final Vote.

"You can stick all the first basemen in a hat. You see all these great first basemen and all these great players in general at any position, but that's what makes All-Star games fun, because it's a celebration of this game and the great players that are out there, because there are so many," said Garciaparra.

"I don't even worry about it, you make them or you don't make them. That doesn't determine whether you're having a good year or not. I'm worried about the way we're playing and making sure we get to where we want to go."

For Garciaparra, who will turn 33 later this month, a selection might provide vindication for one of Major League Baseball's most popular and accomplished players of the last decade. A two-time batting champion and five-time All-Star shortstop in Boston, Garciaparra had to look for work last winter when many clubs thought his best days were behind him.

He accepted a one-year, incentive-laden contract and the challenge of learning a new position. He spent the bulk of Spring Training concentrating on defense, and his bat appeared sluggish. When he was placed on the disabled list with a pulled ribcage muscle the last weekend of spring, it looked like his injury-prone tag would stick.

But Garciaparra returned to action in mid-April with a quick start has never cooled off. He leads the National League in batting average and is among league leaders in on-base and slugging percentage. He's gotten timely hits in late-inning situations and with runners in scoring position, picking up the slack in average and power from Jeff Kent, who started slowly, then got hurt. In short, Garciaparra has dispelled the skeptics by being everything he was at his best in Boston.

And defensively, Garciaparra adjusted to his new role with the same intensity and athleticism that he brought to shortstop. After some early tutoring by Dodgers hitting coach Eddie Murray, Garciaparra has made only one error at his new position and has saved countless runs with acrobatic saves of errant throws, particularly those from struggling shortstop Rafael Furcal. Garciaparra would be the first Dodgers All-Star first baseman since Murray was honored in 1991.

Brad Penny, selected for the National League team earlier Sunday, said Garciaparra deserves to join him.

"I'd be surprised if the fans don't vote him in," said Penny. "Even in this three-game series [against the Angels], he's been crushing the ball, just right at people. He's been locked in all year. He's been probably the best player for us consistently throughout the lineup all year. He's very deserving, I hope he goes."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.