Cano second in tight AL second-base race

Cano, RobinsonNew Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, a five-time All-Star for the Yankees, finds himself in a heated battle on the initial fan balloting for this year’s Midsummer Classic.

Major League Baseball released the first round of American League vote totals Tuesday and Cano is about 6,000 votes behind Detroit’s Ian Kinsler and just ahead of Boston’s Dustin Pedroia in the second-base race, which is the tightest position battle in the initial voting.

The official tally shows 356,244 votes for Kinsler, 350,293 for Cano and 343,321 for Pedroia, with Minnesota’s Brian Dozier fourth at 194,941.

Cano was elected by the fans as the AL starter at second base the past four years and was also named to the team in 2006, though he didn’t play that year due to an injury.

No other Mariners players were among the top five at their positions, or 15 among the outfielders, in the numbers released Tuesday. Seattle hasn’t had a position player selected to the All-Star team since outfielder Ichiro Suzuki earned the last of his 10 straight selections in 2010.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — online or on a mobile device — using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian –  until Thursday, July 3, at 8:59 p.m. PT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 15.

Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Pitchers aren’t voted on by fans, but Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has been selected to the last four All-Star Games. He was joined by Hisashi Iwakuma last year and Michael Pineda and Brandon League in 2011.

Cano had the top batting average of all AL second basemen after Tuesday’s game at .332 and also was first in RBIs with 30. His .377 on-base percentage is second to the .379 mark of the Angels’ Howie Kendrick and his .805 OPS is third behind Kinsler (.837) and Houston’s Jose Altuve (.806).

Kinsler is hitting .330 with four home runs and 22 RBIs with his new Tigers club, while Pedroia is batting .268 with two home runs and 16 RBIs for the Red Sox.  Pedroia is a four-time All-Star who has been elected twice by fans as a starter, while Kinsler is a three-time All-Star who is seeking his first starting assignment.

Second base is a stacked position in the AL this season as Altuve is also having an excellent season, hitting .323 with two home runs, 17 RBIs and 17 stolen bases for the Astros; Kendrick is batting .303 with two home runs and 22 RBIs; and Dozier has 11 home runs, 12 stolen bases and 26 RBIs to go with a .246 batting average.

Cano has hit just two home runs to date and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon says that fact seems to be raising a false impression that the 31-year-old has gotten off to a slow start with his new team. In truth, he’s second behind only Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (.341) among all AL hitters in batting average and leads the Mariners in RBIs while also racking up 11 doubles and a triple and playing outstanding defense.

“All you hear is Robbie is struggling,” McClendon said. “He’s [almost] leading the league in hitting and has 30 RBIs. He’s doing pretty good.”

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