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Hamilton, Rangers pack AL All-Stars; Harper on fan ballot for final NL spot

NEW YORK – Josh Hamilton is set to lead a Texas parade to the All-Star Game. Now fans will decide if Chipper Jones gets one final appearance or whether it’s time for teen sensation Bryce Harper.

Hamilton drew a record total of more than 11 million votes, and the slugger was among seven Rangers chosen Sunday as All-Stars. A trio of San Francisco Giants rallied in the last week to claim National League spots while three Yankees also made the American League starting lineup.

"I don’t think the Texas Rangers have to apologize because we’ve got good players," AL manager Ron Washington of Texas said. "I certainly didn’t pick my guys being selfish. I picked them very deserving of being All-Stars, bottom line."

Washington fastballer Stephen Strasburg and Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey were two of the 66 players chosen by fans, managers and big leaguers for the showcase July 10 in Kansas City, Mo. So was 20-year-old Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout, who leads the majors in hitting and drew more than 800,000 write-in votes.

Few of the races for starting spots were close and there seemed to be little complaining about the fans’ choices. OK, sure, David Wright could’ve gotten the nod over Pablo Sandoval.

But there certainly will be campaigning this week when it comes to Jones and Harper after they were left o ff. The NL and AL each have one spot left, with fans voting online through Thursday to select one of five candidates in each league. Jones and Harper are on the NL ballot.

At 40, Jones is a seven-time All-Star and plans to retire after this season. Banged up, the Atlanta third baseman has managed to hit near .300

At 19, Harper started the season in Triple-A, but the Washington outfielder from Las Vegas has dazzled since his promotion with his bat, arm and hustle.

"I’m an old-timer, so I’d probably lean toward Chipper," NL manager Tony La Russa said on the TBS selection show.

The other NL candidates are Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn and St. Louis third baseman David Freese, Most Valuable Player of last year’s World Series.

The AL candidates are all right-handed pitchers: Texas rookie Yu Darvish and fellow starters Jake Peavy of the White Sox and Jason Hammel of Baltimore and relievers Jonathan Broxton of the Royals and Ernesto Frieri of the Angels.

The league that wins the All-Star Game gains home-field advantage in the World Series. The NL won last year, then St. Louis became the ninth straight home team to win Game 7 in the Series.

Sandoval was picked for the NL at third base despite missing a month with a broken hand and not matching the stats of Wright.

"I’m surprised I made it," said Sandoval, popular for his "Kung Fu Panda" persona. "He’s been having a great year but the fans gave me the votes."

Buster Posey, back from a devastating leg injury last season, was the NL’s top vote-getter and beat out Philadelphia catcher Carlo Ruiz, the league’s leading hitter. Wright and Ruiz made the NL team as reserves.

"This is hard to wrap my head around," Posey said. "I watched all the All-Star games and home run derbies when I was a kid. It’s surreal I get to play in one and get to watch the home run derby."

Hamilton hit four homers in a game this season and leads the majors in RBIs.

"How can you not love Josh Hamilton?" Washington said.

Texas will have three starters – Hamilton in the outfield, Adrian Beltre at third base and Mike Napoli at catcher. A postseason star last year, Napoli has started only about half the time at that spot this year, but still easily outdistanced Minnesota’s Joe Mauer.

"No, it’s not awkward, the fans voted for him," Washington said. "He’s an All-Star, he’s going to go to the All-Star Game. Who’s to say that Napoli may not be the MVP?"

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus, starter Matt Harrison and reliever Joe Nathan also made the AL roster from Texas. The two-time AL champions lead the majors with 50 wins.

Derek Jeter became a 13-time All-Star shortstop and will start for the AL with Yankees teammates Robinson Cano at second base and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. New York pitcher CC Sabathia was picked, too, but is injured.

Posey, Sandoval and San Francisco outfielder Melky Cabrera overcame deficits to win starting spots. Giants ace Matt Cain, who pitched a perfect game in June, made the NL pitching staff.

Prince Fielder of Detroit will start at first base. He was the MVP of last year’s All-Star game while playing in the NL for Milwaukee.

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp edged Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun by 100,000 votes for the third spot in the NL outfield. Kemp, beaten out by Braun for the NL MVP award last year, is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring and looks doubtful to play.

Braun leads the NL in home runs. He was the league’s top vote-getter last year, but may have been hurt by drug allegations this year.

Braun or perhaps Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen could wind up starting in Kemp’s place.

Dickey, at 37, made his first All-Star team. He leads the majors with 12 wins and could become just the second knuckleballer to start an All-Star Game. Dutch Leonard did it in 1943.

Strasburg is 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA and tops the majors in strikeouts for the NL East-leading Nationals. Last year at this time, he was working his way back to the big leagues after Tommy John surgery.

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