07/07/10 6:32 PM ET
Reds don 'Vote Votto' shirts in solidarity
Cincinnati first baseman maintains Final Vote lead Wednesday
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
On Wednesday afternoon before Cincinnati played the Mets, clubhouse manager Rick Stowe hauled in a large box filled with about six dozen red T-shirts. They all simply told fans to "Vote Votto."Every Reds player and coach wore the shirts during batting practice in a show of solidarity behind Votto. "I think it's pretty cool. I've got mine on," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "If one guy's got it on, we've all got it on. All for one, and one for all." That included Votto, who almost sheepishly wore the shirt. Not one to enjoy self-promotion, he did personally thank each teammate for wearing the shirt on his behalf for Final Vote, which runs until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday on MLB.com and Reds.com. "I think it's pretty cool. I really appreciate all of my teammates wearing them," Votto said. "Stuff like this doesn't happen every day. I think it's a pretty cool experience. "This type of stuff, it's kind of embarrassing -- but in a good way, if that makes sense. I'm just too shy to get into this type of stuff. I just enjoy doing my job. I know that sometimes, there's a little more to our job than just going out and playing ball. This is one of those situations." Back in Cincinnati, the club held a "Vote Red" lunch at the press dining room of Great American Ball Park. With computers set up and fans asked to vote for Votto and Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis, 175 people attended and consumed about 80 pizzas. Among those who voted were Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and United States Sen. Sherrod Brown. In Canada, Votto's native country, media outlets have gotten out the word and newspapers in his hometown of Toronto have encouraged fans to vote for Votto. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, a native of British Columbia, was also behind his countryman as his team played the Blue Jays. "I texted him Sunday morning -- told him good luck and hope he gets in," said Morneau. "He texted me back and said, 'We'll see what happens.' It's unfortunate but hopefully he gets in with that last vote. There is a pretty good first baseman over in that league. Obviously you want to see a fellow Canadian in there." Votto maintained his lead over Ryan Zimmerman, Billy Wagner, Carlos Gonzalez and Heath Bell. Later in the day, Bell was selected to the All-Star team as a replacement for injured Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo. The "Vote Red" campaign alliance between the Reds and Red Sox didn't get all good news. While Votto is leading, Kevin Youkilis was overtaken by the Yankees' Nick Swisher and is in second place on the American League ballot. According to MLB.com, Swisher leads by less than one percentage point. Votto has tried to keep the hoopla surrounding the Final Vote campaign at bay and let others do the talking for him. He's had more fun, he said, stepping into the batters' box to face Johan Santana like he did on Tuesday. But the attention hasn't been all bad to him either. "I like that it's something positive," Votto said. "It's a byproduct of us both winning and me playing well. That's a good thing, but it can be a little much."
Mark Sheldon is a repoter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.