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Campaign for hard-worker Hunter begins

Campaign for hard-worker Hunter begins

Mike Scioscia is admittedly partial to his man, but he has a hard time believing there is an outfielder in the American League -- or any other league -- doing more than Torii Hunter to enhance his team.

"He's doing everything," Scioscia said of his eight-time Gold Glove center fielder. "From defense to the batter's box to running the bases to what he does in the clubhouse. I think it's an understatement to say he's an important part of the club. This guy's special -- and we're glad to have him."

Hunter is running fifth among AL outfielders in the All-Star Game balloting, meaning it's time for his fans to step up and back him the way he has stepped up and carries his team all season, ranking among the leaders in homers and RBIs while enjoying perhaps his best all-around season.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 8:59 p.m. PT.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic at St. Louis' Busch Stadium on July 14 via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Boston's Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton of Texas and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki are the frontrunners for the starting roles in the AL outfield, with Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford also in front of Hunter.

The only other Angels player remotely in contention for a starting job is Bobby Abreu, 15th among outfielders. Also on the ballot are first baseman Kendry Morales, second baseman Howard Kendrick, shortstop Erick Aybar, third baseman Chone Figgins, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and catcher Mike Napoli.

Like Hunter, Figgins is enjoying a high-caliber season offensively and defensively.

"Chone has been as good as any leadoff hitter in the league," Scioscia said. "He's also playing great defense at third base."

Guerrero, an eight-time All-Star, has started slowly this season, mending a torn pectoral muscle.

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

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