Votto maintains NL Final Vote lead

Votto maintains NL Final Vote lead

NEW YORK -- A quickly formed alliance to get fans to "Vote Red" seems to be working during the All-Star Final Vote on MLB.com.

In the National League update released on Tuesday, Reds first baseman Joey Votto maintained his lead in the balloting over the other four players after two days of voting, and with two days remaining in the balloting. And in the American League, Red Sox first baseman and Cincinnati native Kevin Youkilis passed the Yankees' Nick Swisher for the lead.

The Final Vote, sponsored by Sprint, continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday on MLB.com, Reds.com and RedSox.com. Results will be revealed later that day. There is no limit to the number of times fans can vote.

Late on Monday, the Reds and Red Sox joined forces to co-promote their first basemen. The teams are using their own web sites, social networking sites and local television and radio game broadcasts to urge fans to "Vote Red" by picking Votto and Youkilis.

Cincinnati-area fans are more than familiar with Youkilis, who was a 1997 graduate of Sycamore High School and a star for the University of Cincinnati baseball team. He entered the day hitting .299 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI. Youkilis leads the Major Leagues in runs scored with 66 and ranks high in the AL in several offensive categories.

In Votto's hometown of Toronto on Tuesday, the Blue Jays got behind the effort to get a native Canadian to the All-Star Game. The Jays put out a Tweet that asked their fans to vote for Votto, and the club also planned to promote him on the Rogers Centre's scoreboard during their game vs. the Twins.

On Wednesday, before their game with the Mets at Citi Field, the Reds plan to wear "Vote Red" T-shirts during batting practice with the names of both Votto and Youkilis on them.

And back in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday afternoon, the club and its team-sponsored blog, "Better off Red," are hosting a "Vote Votto" lunch from 12-2 p.m. ET in the press dining room. While fans chow on free food, the Reds will have laptops available for fans to vote. Fans are also allowed to bring their own computers if they choose.

Fans in Cincinnati have also been encouraged to create their own "Vote Votto" yard signs and there has been a full media blitz to get out the vote. That push going forward will include Youkilis as well.

Votto is vying for the Final Vote win against Padres reliever Heath Bell, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Braves reliever Billy Wagner and Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

During the campaign, Votto hasn't gotten caught up in the results or the fanfare that has surrounded him. In Monday's 8-6 win over New York, he went 3-for-4 and slugged two home runs to give him the NL lead with 21.

Votto is also third in the NL in hitting and tied for fourth in RBIs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, since the current qualifier rules for the batting average leader went into effect in 1957, Baltimore's Boog Powell (1966) is the only player to rank in the top five in his league's hitting, HR and RBI categories at the break and not make the All-Star team.

"If I get picked, that would be great," Votto said after Monday's game. "I would appreciate the opportunity to play in an All-Star game. If I don't, four days [off] in the middle of summer wouldn't be bad."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.