07/05/09 7:45 PM ET
Figgins has a shot to be an All-Star
Angels third baseman among five AL Final Vote candidates
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Figgins, the Angels' third baseman and leadoff catalyst, is among five players in contention for the last remaining American League roster spot in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote.
A driving force behind the past two AL West championship teams with his offensive production and sensational defense at the hot corner, Figgins is in the midst of arguably his best all-around season. An All-Star Game appearance in the July 14 Midsummer Classic in St. Louis' Busch Stadium would be the first of his career.
"Figgins has a chance," said Hunter, named an All-Star for the third time on Sunday, along with closer Brian Fuentes. "Hopefully, we can encourage everyone to go out and vote for him ... because I think he deserves it. And I hope he gets elected."
Figgins grinned and said he wasn't going to "stress out" over any elections.
"All I want to say is that for one night, I can play anywhere and do anything Joe needs," said Figgins, referring to AL All-Star manager Joe Maddon of the Rays.
Now in its eighth year, the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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 Pepsi and continues until 1 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
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 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 Chevy via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
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.
Figgins, among the AL leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and steals, is in competition for the final spot on the AL roster with Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge, Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, Toronto outfielder Adam Lind and Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena.
"That's center stage," Figgins said of the Midsummer Classic. "It doesn't get any better. For that one time, to say I was an All-Star, it would be such an honor. I can't even begin to tell you how much that would mean to me.
"Once you're an All-Star, it never changes. You're always an All-Star. When he was with us, Garret [Anderson] was two-time All-Star Garret Anderson. It's two-time All-Star Torii Hunter. Two-time All-Star Bobby Abreu.
"People hear that, and they think, `Hey, maybe he's a good player.' I've talked to guys about that. It changes how you're looked at, gives you credibility. You feel respected. You're not just a Major League player any more. You're an All-Star. It's like part of your name, your identity."
Until recently, Figgins' identity was tied to his ability to play six positions -- and play them well.
"I can move around, play multiple positions," Figgins said. "The game's going to be in a National League park, with no DH. I've got my outfield glove, ready to go. I could play three or four positions if they need me to."
The Final Vote candidates in the National League are Washington shortstop Cristian Guzman, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds, San Francisco corner infielder Pablo Sandoval and Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino.
According to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, "Chone has been as good as any leadoff hitter in the league. He's also playing great defense at third base."
Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria won the fans' balloting at third base, with Texas' Michael Young claiming the players' vote by finishing second among peers to Longoria.
Among past winners of the Final Vote are Abreu, who was voted in while he was with the Phillies in 2004. Last year's Final Vote winners were Longoria and Corey Hart of the Brewers.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.