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ONTO -- In less than two months, Ernesto Frieri has gone from being buried in a bullpen to closing games for a playoff contender to possibly being an All-Star.
It's all happening so fast.
"I can't explain it," Frieri said on Sunday, moments after learning he was selected as a Final Vote candidate for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City. "I'm surprised. I've been blessed."
The Angels already have four representatives for the upcoming Midsummer Classic in Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. And if Frieri gets enough votes via the All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Firestone, they could have a fifth.
To make the team, Frieri -- with 23 1/3 scoreless innings, 40 strikeouts and 10 saves in 10 chances with the Angels -- will have to compile more votes than Jake Peavy of the White Sox, Jason Hammel of the Orioles, Jonathan Broxton of the Royals and Japanese sensation Yu Darvish of the Rangers.
"I'm going to make a lot of phone calls right now, and make sure that all my friends and other people from Colombia vote for me, and obviously, Angels fans," an overjoyed Frieri said. "This is a great opportunity for me, and I'm going to represent the Angels and want to represent my country, too, and obviously, my family. If I get the opportunity, it would be amazing. It would be unforgettable."
Now in its 11th year, the 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 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until Thursday, July 5, at 1 p.m. PT. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Fans can use their mobile phone to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 89269.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet, via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 4:30 p.m. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 6-20. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 6 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
The National League choices are Braves center fielder Michael Bourn, Cardinals third baseman David Freese, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill and Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
Acquired from the Padres on May 3, in exchange for infielder Alexi Amarista and Minor League pitcher Donn Roach, Frieri became the first pitcher in Major League history with 40-plus strikeouts and no earned runs in his first 23-plus innings with a new club, according to Stats LLC. He's the fifth Angels player to be nominated for the Final Vote, joining Darin Erstad (2002), Bengie Molina ('03), Kelvim Escobar ('07) and Chone Figgins ('09).
None of them won, and if Frieri doesn't, either, he'll be fine. The way he sees it, at least someone's recognizing his success.
"I'm happy, man," the 26-year-old said. "I've never thought about this. It's too early in my career. And I know that I'm doing pretty good right now. But that means that what I'm doing, people like it, and that's amazing. I'm really happy right now, just because the fans have a chance to decide who's going to make it now. And hopefully, that's going to be me."