Votto, Swisher win final All-Star roster spot

Published 2:52 am Friday, July 9, 2010

SEATTLE — After this successful campaign, maybe New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher should consider a future in politics.

Swisher and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto were chosen by fans on Thursday for the final two roster spots in Tuesday’s All-Star game at Anaheim, Calif.

Votto earned the 34th and final spot on the National League roster by beating out Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Atlanta closer Billy Wagner. Padres reliever Heath Bell was a candidate before being chosen as an injury replacement on the NL squad.

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“I would say I’m relieved,” Votto said. “I’m really glad this whole thing is over with. It was kind of taxing on me. I’m excited and I really, really appreciate the fans and their support.”

Cincinnati players campaigned for their teammate, donning “Vote Votto” red T-shirts during batting practice Wednesday before their game against the New York Mets.

“I just really appreciate the accomplishment. I’m going to take it in,” Votto added. “It means a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to be an All-Star.”

Votto hit his 22nd homer early in Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia. He began the day batting .313 and leading the NL in homers, slugging percentage (.588) and on-base percentage (.417).

“Joey’s had a great first half,” Zimmerman said. “I mean, he’s top-five in every single one of the Triple Crown categories and honestly, he should probably start at first base.”

Swisher edged Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis for the final AL spot. He was also competing against Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Texas third baseman Michael Young and Minnesota outfielder Delmon Young.

Swisher received 9.8 million votes during the four days of Internet balloting and is the eighth Yankees player selected. Seven are headed to Anaheim — closer Mariano Rivera will skip the game because of nagging injuries. Plus, New York manager Joe Girardi will lead the AL squad.

“It’s so crazy. I felt like a politician the last four days. You’re up in the polls; you’re down in the polls. Man, this is taxing,” Swisher said. “I’m glad this is over. I couldn’t be any more excited.”

Thanks to his Twitter account and his nearly 1.3 million followers, Swisher spent the final few days of the vote campaigning for support. When baseball announced Thursday morning that Swisher and Youkilis were nearly tied, Swisher tweeted “We’re in the final stretch. Can’t thank yall enough for your support. Let’s finish strong!”

After getting word he won, Swisher tweeted “THANK YOU!!!”

“When I finally got the news it was great. All my teammates were excited that it happened. That’s the greatest thing,” Swisher said. “Especially coming on a fan vote like that, it shows how important our fans are. Then again, they’re the reason we are who we are.”

Swisher entered Thursday night’s series opener in Seattle with a .298 average to go along with 14 homers, 48 RBIs and 52 runs.