Wagner among Final Vote candidates

Wagner among Final Vote candidates

NEW YORK -- A year ago, Billy Wagner gained status as a National League All-Star only because Pedro Martinez excused himself. This year, Wagner may need a secondary vote -- or another "physical issue" to be part of the team.

"But you know what?" he said on Sunday. "It doesn't matter how you make it. There's no back door when you're an All-Star. It's just an honor."

So the Mets closer is hoping he will join six teammates -- or five, if Martinez withdraws again -- in Pittsburgh on July 11. He knows the game will begin with four Mets on the field. He hopes it ends with at least one -- himself -- on the field and on the mound.

"I'd love to be there at the end of the All-Star Game, at the ends of two playoff series, and at the end of the World Series," he said. "That'd be a pretty good year. Don't you think?"

It could be because Wagner is one five National League players included in the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote balloting that will decide the 32nd player on the team.

In addition to Wagner, Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu -- voted to the 2004 team by this process -- Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, and pitchers Chris Capuano of the Brewers and Chris Young of the Padres are included in this competition.

Wagner, an All-Star in four of the last seven years, was one of the five last year when his former Astros teammate Roy Oswalt was elected. He was the last player added, but only when Martinez withdrew.

"I had much better credentials last year. I was having a good year," Wagner said. "Now, I'm having a kinda [lousy] year. But if you get a chance to go, you go."

If Wagner is elected, he will be representing a third franchise as an All-Star -- he went with the Astros in 1999, 2001 and 2003, and with the Phillies last year.

The Monster.com 2006 All-Star Final Vote, now in its fifth year, 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 6 p.m. ET Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can also text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 28776.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final position 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 at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.

The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

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