Tribe teams with Rox to promote Kluber in Final Vote
Indians supporting NL candidate Morneau in exchange for Rockies' backing of righty
CLEVELAND -- Between the countless warmup shirts that read "#VoteKluber" and the same message being displayed on the Progressive Field grass, the Indians were practically overflowing with support for pitcher Corey Kluber on Monday.
"Check out my chest," Nick Swisher said, running his fingers across his shirt. "How's it look? I think it's great, man."
Final Vote candidates
|P||Dallas Keuchel, HOU|
|P||Corey Kluber, CLE|
|P||Rick Porcello, DET|
|P||Garrett Richards, LAA|
|P||Chris Sale, CWS|
|1B||Justin Morneau, COL|
|2B||Anthony Rendon, WAS|
|1B||Anthony Rizzo, CHC|
|3B||Casey McGehee, MIA|
|OF||Justin Upton, ATL|
Kluber, named as one of five American League Final Vote candidates to earn the last All-Star Game roster spot, is now the subject of a joint Indians-Rockies social media campaign that seeks to promote him and first baseman Justin Morneau, who is a National League Final Vote candidate. Using the hashtag #ClevelandRox, the two clubs are asking fans to vote for Kluber and Morneau, both of whom find themselves on the All-Star bubble despite stringing together a pair of impressive first halves.
The Indians are even working with the Rockies on a parody of the popular "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism" YouTube videos with the aim of promoting Morneau and Kluber.
"It's cool what the Rockies are doing for us, and I think it's cool what we're doing for them," Tribe pitcher Josh Tomlin said. "Both guys are very deserving and I hope they both get it. What Corey has done this year, it's pretty unbelievable what he's done. I don't think that should go unrecognized."
Morneau has been as consistent as they come in 2014, batting .316 with 13 home runs while turning in 30 multihit performances entering Monday. The left-handed slugger also leads the Rockies in both doubles (20) and RBIs (59) while ranking second to only NL All-Star Troy Tulowitzki in total hits (99) and homers.
Morneau has dealt with his share of injuries over the past few seasons. Finally healthy and riding a productive 2014, the chance for the former Twins first baseman to return to his old Minnesota stomping grounds makes for an appealing story.
"It's a great story," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, with #VoteMorneau bumper stickers plastered behind him in the Rockies' dugout during his pregame news conference. "But not only is it a great story, he deserves to be there. He's had a great first half. He's one of our most consistent, productive hitters. Fighting back from the career-threatening injury he had and to be doing what he's doing, it's really a great story. To have the opportunity to go back to Minnesota, where he spent most of his career, won an MVP ... we're pushing hard."
Kluber (8-6, 2.86 ERA) entered Monday among the AL leaders in strikeouts (fourth with 137) and ERA (eighth among qualified pitchers) and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 16 of his 19 outings this season. The 28-year-old right-hander has quietly emerging as the most dependable starter on Cleveland's pitching staff and would be playing in his first Midsummer Classic if selected.
Known for his stoic demeanor, Kluber is hardly one to praise his own accomplishments. His teammates, however, are another story, and they're looking to get the city of Cleveland behind their starting pitcher, as well.
"A guy like Klubes, his numbers [show he belongs]," Swisher said. "Ten punchouts [in 8 1/3 innings against the Royals on Sunday]. Obviously, that Final Vote boils down to how big your organization is and how big your fan base is. So, for us, man, we want to get the word out there. We want to let everybody know that our man Klubot should be there."
Of course, the competition for the AL vote looks to be a fierce one. Garrett Richards (10-2, 2.71 ERA), who is in the middle of a breakout season with the Angels, and Chris Sale (8-1, 2.16 ERA) of the White Sox both join Kluber as nominees and claim equally strong showings in 2014.
"Your first inclination always is, 'Ah, man. Klubes got [robbed].' If you look at that list of five, those guys are good," Tribe manager Terry Francona said.
Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
Fans can also cast votes on the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the Final Vote ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. For example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.
For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.
The hashtags and text designations are as follows:
Dallas Keuchel: #VoteKeuchel (A1)
Corey Kluber: #VoteKluber (A2)
Rick Porcello: #PickRick (A3)
Garrett Richards: #VoteGRich (A4)
Chris Sale: #TargetSale (A5)
Casey McGehee: #VoteHitsMcGehee (N1)
Justin Morneau: #VoteMorneau (N2)
Anthony Rendon: #VoteRendon (N3)
Anthony Rizzo: #VoteRizzo (N4)
Justin Upton: #VoteJUp (N5)
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again allow fans to help choose 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 and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.