Resurgent Hafner has spot on All-Star ballot

Resurgent Hafner has spot on All-Star ballot

Resurgent Hafner has spot on All-Star ballot
CLEVELAND -- For the first time in All-Star Game history, a designated hitter will be used in a National League ballpark. Major League Baseball altered the rules and now there are a few more sluggers on the All-Star campaign trail.

Indians DH Travis Hafner has certainly made his case to this point.

Hafner is among nine players listed on this year's All-Star ballot for Cleveland in preparation for the annual Midsummer Classic. A handful of the Tribe's candidates are worthy of consideration, but there is no denying that Hafner has been the Indians' renaissance man early on this season.

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 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 3. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.

The All-Star Game, to be played at Chase Field in Phoenix on July 12, will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, and MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

The 33-year-old Hafner was fifth in AL Most Valuable Player voting in 2005, and eighth one season later, but he has never been named an All-Star in his 10 seasons. Hindering his chances in recent years was a chronic right shoulder injury that sapped his strength.

So far this season, Hafner has looked strong and he has produced strong offensive results as the Tribe's regular DH. Indians manager Manny Acta has not had to limit Hafner's playing time -- as was the case late last year -- and the DH has responded by hitting for a high average and flashing his famous power.

Joining Hafner among Cleveland's All-Star contenders are outfielders Grady Sizemore (a three-time All-Star), Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley, along with first baseman Matt LaPorta, second baseman Orlando Cabrera, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Carlos Santana.

Jason Donald is also listed at third base for the Indians, but he has been sidelined up to this point this season with a left hand injury. Donald is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. Jack Hannahan has played third admirably in Donald's place for the Tribe.

In-person balloting at Progressive Field is set to open on Friday and will run through June 17.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.