Figgins still holding Final Vote hope

Figgins still holding Final Vote hope

ANAHEIM -- He's running third in a five-man race in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote for the last spot on the American League roster. But Chone Figgins' spirits clearly weren't dampened on Wednesday afternoon as Thursday's 1 p.m. PT deadline for Final Vote ballots approached.

Heading out to the Angel Stadium field for his pregame stretching, Figgins walked past Torii Hunter, who was telling a reporter about a muscle strain that had him out of the lineup against the Rangers.

"You're not playing, Torii? Why don't you go jump on the computer and vote for me?" Figgins said. "It's all set up. Just vote -- and keep voting."

Hunter, who was waiting for the word from Dr. Lewis Yocum on an MRI of his right groin area, beamed.

"Sure," the Angels' superlative -- and accommodating -- center fielder said. "I'll be right on it."

Figgins remained third as Detroit's Brandon Inge surged into the lead, past Texas' Ian Kinsler, in the American League balloting. On Figgins' heels are Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena and Toronto's Adam Lind.

Figgins is hoping to join Hunter and closer Brian Fuentes on the AL roster representing the two-time reigning AL West champions at the July 14 Midsummer Classic at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. It would be Figgins' first appearance.

Because of his ailment, Hunter's spot now is in jeopardy. If the center fielder can't play, Figgins -- among the game's most versatile players with considerable experience in center field -- could make it, replacing his teammate even if he doesn't win the Final Vote.

Should Hunter be forced to decline, the Angels have other excellent candidates in fellow outfielders Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu.

Now in its eighth year, the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly after Thursday's deadline.

"I'm hoping for a big finish," Figgins said. "I'm staying optimistic -- and voting every chance I get. So are my teammates and their family members. I really appreciate all the support."

The Giants' Pablo Sandoval continued to lead by a narrow margin over the Phillies' Shane Victorino in the National League balloting.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT.

ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.  XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

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