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Braves back Freeman, fellow Final Vote vets

Players laud Dodgers' Puig, feel he hasn't been in Majors long enough

PHILADELPHIA -- After Freddie Freeman gained a chance to earn an All-Star selection by being placed on this year's 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by ballot, some Braves players were heard playfully saying, "Vote for Freeman and not for Puig."

It was harmless clubhouse banter that followed Saturday night's 13-4 win over the Phillies. But by the time Sunday arrived, some of the Braves had become more vociferous, saying that Freeman and the three other veteran candidates on the National League ballot were more deserving than Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers outfielder who has grabbed the attention of the baseball world since his Major League debut on June 3.

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"I'm not trying to take anything away from Puig," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "He's had an amazing month. But that's exactly it. It's been one month. I'm not saying he won't continue to do that. But it's hard to see something like this be taken away from somebody who has done it since Opening Day."

The NL's Final Vote ballot also includes Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. But many of the Braves have taken exception to the fact that some media outlets have promoted Puig to the point that it seems like a one-man race.

"It's the Puig campaign," Braves pitcher Kris Medlen said. "Honestly, [Freeman] has no shot. Whether he has six home runs and has 20 RBIs in Miami [this week], he's not going to make the All-Star team."

Freeman has been the most valuable player on a Braves team that has been in first place longer (97 days) than any other team this year. He has hit .306 (88-for-208) with nine home runs and an .843 OPS through 75 games.

"I hope our fans get an opportunity to vote and vote often and get him in there because he's had a hell of a first three months of the season," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Interestingly, the Braves were debating whether Puig had garnered enough time to warrant a selection on the eight-year anniversary of Jeff Francoeur's Major League debut. Like Puig, Francoeur became an instant celebrity as he dominated opposing pitchers during the first month of his career.

Puig has been a catalyst to the recent run that has taken the Dodgers from last place in the NL West to within 4 1/2 games of first place. The 22-year-old outfielder has hit .409 with eight home runs and a 1.114 OPS through his first 32 games.

Francoeur was a little more productive as he hit .370, collected 10 homers and compiled a 1.125 OPS through his first 32 games at the big league level.

"I think the consensus around the league is that [Puig's] years are coming," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "I don't think a guy should make the All-Star team after a month, even though [Puig's] month has been as good as they come. You've got guys who have been playing since the start of the season."

Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Freeman, simply text message N2 to 89269. In Canada, fans should text N2 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply.

For the second consecutive year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by (#FinalVote) will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their Final Vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the balloting deadline.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for

Atlanta Braves, Freddie Freeman