MIAMI -- Count Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez among those who helped Freddie Freeman grab the early lead among the five National League All-Star hopefuls on this year's 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com ballot.
"I know my wife and I didn't speak to each other this morning because we were both [voting] on our iPad," Gonzalez said. "I thought it would lock me out after about 30 votes, but you just keep punching numbers. After awhile I just had enough. If he loses by one, Freeman can blame me."
As he prepared for Monday night's game against the Marlins, Freeman said he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from fans since the balloting began on Saturday night. The results released early Monday morning had the Braves first baseman slightly in front of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence. Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez held the final two spots in the balloting process.
"All the tweets and all that stuff is pretty awesome," Freeman said. "Somehow, being on top now is more than I could have ever asked for. So let's try to keep it there."
The attention Freeman has garnered in this process has been aided through the partnership the Braves and Blue Jays have formed in an attempt to get both Freeman and Toronto's right-handed reliever Steve Delabar to the All-Star Game. Delabar was leading the five American League candidates as of Monday morning.
One of the reasons the Braves chose to partner with the Blue Jays stemmed from the fact that both of Freeman's parents are from Canada.
"I think that's cool," Freeman said. "Obviously I've got a lot of people up there because my family is from there. But for the Braves to think about that and partner with the Blue Jays, it's just a cool thing."
Having benefited from Evan Gattis' improbable rise to the Majors this year, the Braves also felt a connection with Delabar, a Kentucky native who battled multiple elbow injuries before briefly retiring after playing in an independent league in 2009.
While serving as a substitute teacher in 2010, Delabar gained the motivation to begin pitching again. The hard-throwing right-hander has compiled a 1.58 ERA and notched 57 strikeouts in 40 innings for Toronto this year.
"It seemed like a natural fit," Braves manager of interactive marketing Ryan McFerrin said. "Plus [the Blue Jays] bring a whole country to the table. So it was cool to be able to leverage that."
Using Twitter and other social media outlets, the Braves have given fans who vote for Freeman a chance to win autographed baseballs and a chance for an on-field meet-and-greet that will include a hug from Freeman, who has popularized the art of hugging before, during and after games over the past few seasons.
"The Braves are doing a great job and the fans are just awesome," Freeman said. "The support I've got through Twitter is just crazy. I've got three more days to go. But hopefully I can stay on top somehow."
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com 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 MLB.com 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. To vote for Delabar, text A2. In Canada, fans should text N2 or A2 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply.
For the second consecutive year, the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com (#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.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. 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 12-26. 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 12 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.