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WAUKEE -- Baseball fans have backed Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun to the tune of 1,112,971 votes, placing him third among National League outfielders and fourth among all NL players in the first round of All-Star Game balloting results released Tuesday.
If Braun was surprised by that show of support, he didn't let on.
"I've always been appreciative of people's support. It's always meant a lot to me," he said. "It's certainly not a priority. I'm trying to focus on getting healthy and helping our team get back to where we expect to be."
Braun returned to Milwaukee's lineup Tuesday after missing Sunday's start with right Achilles and hip issues.
He has received tough treatment from fans at venues from Atlanta to Los Angeles, but nonetheless is in position to be voted an All-Star Game starter for the fifth straight year. The outfield race is being paced by the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, who leads all NL players with more than 1.9 million votes. The Cardinals' Carlos Beltran is running second among outfielders with just over 1.2 million votes, then comes Braun at about 1.1 million. The Dodgers' Andre Ethier is fourth with 827,262 votes.
Other Brewers on the ballot are further down the list at their respective positions.
Rickie Weeks is running fourth among second basemen despite his sub-.200 batting average, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy and injured shortstop Alex Gonzalez are fifth at their spots.
"The people here [in Wisconsin] have continued to support us in spite of the fact that we haven't got off to a great start," Braun said. "That always means a lot. Things aren't always going to go the way you want as a team, but the fact the fan base has continued to support us, continued to show up and help create a great atmosphere here helps us when we're scuffling."
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 10:59 p.m. CT.
Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, July 9.
The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for 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 via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd 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. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.
Braun had to withdraw from last year's All-Star Game because of a leg injury, and the possibility remains that he'd have to bow out again. He injured his right Achilles logging his 100th career stolen base in San Diego on May 1, and since then has twice re-aggravated it. Over the weekend, Braun slid awkwardly on another steal and added a right hip strain to his Achilles issue.
Asked how he felt Tuesday, Braun shrugged.
"I feel all right," he said.
Might it bother him all year?
"I hope not," Braun said. "You always hope it goes away, but any injury you deal with in the season, it rarely goes away completely. Look around the league. [Boston's Dustin] Pedroia has been dealing with his thing for a while, and it got worse. [Colorado's Troy] Tulowitzki, Kemp, a lot of guys. It's really difficult to [make an injury] go away when you play every day and you play hard. I can't control when I have to sprint after a ball or dive for a ball or slide into a base."
He can control stolen bases, and manager Ron Roenicke said he had discussed the issue with Braun, hinting that he had revoked the player's green light.
Braun said adrenaline takes over at times.
"Whenever a guy is 1.5 [seconds] or slower to the plate, I'm going to be safe 99.9 percent of the time," Braun said. "I'll try to pick and choose my spots. I think it's an important part of my game and an important part of our game, and there's even more emphasis on it when you lose a guy like Prince [Fielder], because we have to find a way to manufacture runs."