Neshek gets a chance with Final Vote
Fans can help send Twins reliever to All-Star Game
DETROIT -- Twins reliever Pat Neshek is quite familiar with Internet campaigns.After all, it was how the right-handed sidearmer got himself voted onto the International League All-Star roster last year while playing for Triple-A Rochester. Using his blog, www.patneshek.com, the reliever generated fan support to help earn himself the bid. So Neshek's reaction to the news that he was selected among five American League players to be part of the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote wasn't hard to predict. He was more than pumped. "I think the next closest guy had a fourth of the votes I had," Neshek said of his previous campaign. "I've got fans in lots of other places, so hopefully they'll get out there and vote a lot. They always do. ... So I like my chances." Now in its sixth year, the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 5 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 5. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2007 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. Whether celebrating the Fourth of July or Canada Day, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Standard rate text messaging fees apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the Monster 2007 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be held July 10 at San Francisco's AT&T Park, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
The Twins' bullpen has been one of its biggest strengths this season, and Neshek has been a big reason why. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in 39 1/3 innings of work so far this season. Neshek's .124 batting average against is the lowest among AL relievers and his 47 strikeouts rank second. He has also allowed just 16 hits this season.Part of Neshek's appeal for the Twins is the unique angle at which he delivers the ball. Somewhere between a submarine pitcher and a sidearmer, Neshek offers a very unorthodox style that continues to baffle right-handed hitters.
"Hitters say a lot about what a pitcher does," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've seen hitters look over here and go, 'Oh geez, here comes this sidearm guy throwing that thing in there.' Hitters really tell you a story, whether they like to face a guy or not. And I think hitters respect him a lot."Since joining the Twins' bullpen last July, Neshek has been one of the club's most consistent arms. He holds a 1.77 ERA in 70 career appearances (76 1/3 innings). He has 100 strikeouts over that span and has allowed just 15 total runs. The fact that Neshek was included on the list as a setup man is something that impressed all of the Twins. Usually the spots on the roster for pitchers are reserved for starters or closers, but the Twins know that others have taken notice of what Neshek has done with just a year of experience. "His numbers are mind boggling, as far as what he's done," Gardenhire said. "Baseball fans all around might not know much about him, but I think baseball managers do, and coaches and players know a lot about him from watching him pitch. Obviously there is respect there from baseball people. It's pretty good to have name on a list like that." Competing with Neshek for the Final Vote selection and to be the 32nd man on the American League squad will be Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, Angels right-hander Kelvim Escobar, Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, and Red Sox lefty reliever Hideki Okajima. Neshek knows he will have plenty of competition, not only from the Japanese voters pushing for Okajima but from the big market candidates like those from Boston, L.A. and Detroit. But despite not being a name that is well known outside of the Twin Cities and the baseball world, Neshek feels that getting access via his blog will help and his teammates feel the same way. "He's got a lot of support on the Internet," said Justin Morneau, who earned his first bid to the All-Star Game on Sunday. "He might be tough to beat." The only problem at the moment is that Neshek's Web site has been undergoing a bit of a face lift. Not exactly the best time for that, and something Neshek is trying to fix -- quickly. "I'm going to try to get in touch with a couple people there and put something up," Neshek said. "I'll get on tonight and see what I can do."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.