Tampa Bay fans were beginning to wonder if they'd ever see a healthy Matt Duffy in the lineup. The Rays third baseman missed the entire 2017 season due to injury. Now Duffy is having a solid season and finds himself on the American League All-Star ballot.• VOTE: 2018 Camping World
Tampa Bay fans were beginning to wonder if they'd ever see a healthy Matt Duffy in the lineup. The Rays third baseman missed the entire 2017 season due to injury. Now Duffy is having a solid season and finds himself on the American League All-Star ballot.
• VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot
"[After not playing last season] I think it's cool [to see my name on the ballot]," Duffy said. "Kind of one of those things that feels good after being out so long."
Other Tampa Bay players on this year's ballot include: Brad Miller, first base; Joey Wendle, second base; Daniel Robertson, shortstop; Wilson Ramos, catcher; C.J. Cron, DH; and Mallex Smith, Carlos Gomez and Kevin Kiermaier, outfield.
Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.
Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
Rays manager Kevin Cash marveled at how well Duffy has played after missing the entire 2017 season.
"I think with a position player, the biggest things are being on his feet and his timing at the plate," Cash said. "I don't really recall any period throughout this season where Matt didn't have good timing at the plate. He's probably gone quiet at times and hasn't gotten the hits, but he always seems to have good at-bats. He worked really hard this offseason. He worked really hard during Spring Training. Kind of managing his workload."
Duffy said getting familiarized again with the game took a while, but he's starting to feel comfortable.
"Definitely feel like the game is slowing down a little bit for me," Duffy said. "That's what guys talk about when they're knocking off rust -- things just feel a little fast. That's kind of how I felt offensively, but especially defensively. I think that's probably shown itself more than the offensive side.
"I'm starting to feel comfortable. Starting to feel that I want the ball hit to me. I'm expecting the ball to be hit to me. I think that's just kind of a general feeling that you get once you start getting the pace of the game back to where it should be ideally."
Duffy said getting comfortable is "always a process."
"You have days where you feel good, and days where you feel bad," Duffy said. "We're all human in here, so we're going to make mistakes, and there's always an adjustment period. I'd say it's definitely coming."
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.