Lee headlines Astros' list of All-Star hopefuls

Lee headlines Astros' list of All-Star hopefuls

Lee headlines Astros' list of All-Star hopefuls
WASHINGTON -- Could veteran slugger Carlos Lee be headed back to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2007? Or will a younger player, such as outfielder J.D. Martinez, make enough of an impact to find his way to the Midsummer Classic for the first time?

Lee and Martinez are among the Astros appearing are on the National League's All-Star ballot this year, joining catcher Jason Castro, second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Jordan Schafer and Brian Bogusevic.

Lee, who made the move to first base from the outfield midway through last season, hasn't made the All-Star team since making it three years in a row from 2005-07, including his first year with the Astros. Lee is the only current Astros player to make an All-Star team.

That could change this year, though, with up-and-comers like Martinez, Altuve and Schafer off to quick starts at the plate.

Martinez is on the ballot for the first time.

"That's pretty cool," Martinez said. "That's pretty cool. I know it's a long shot, but it's pretty neat. It's obviously one of my goals and it's tough to do. You just have to keep working hard and have a good season and just do all the things right and you never know. You could put yourself in a good spot."

Martinez, who grew up as a big Marlins fan in the Miami area, remembers voting for his favorite Marlins growing up.

"I used to grab like 20 [ballots] and do all the home guys," Martinez said. "A lot of my friends and family from back home will go crazy when they see that. They'll be punching a bunch of cards."

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 10:59 p.m. CT.

Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9. 

The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy. 

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

In-stadium balloting at Minute Maid Park will begin May 4 and continue through June 20.

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.