As David Ortiz closes in on his ninth All-Star appearance in the last 10 years, he can appreciate how far he's come from the frustration of the offseason and Spring Training, when his right Achilles continued to bark.
"Missing all that time last year and also at the beginning of the season this year, it was tough," said Ortiz. "I'm the kind of guy that likes to be out there playing. Mentally, you're used to playing every day. When you don't do it, it catches up to you and messes with your mind a little."
As a result of the elite level he's played at since his April 20 return, Ortiz likely won't need to make any vacation plans for the All-Star break.
The slugger is in prime position to land the starting designated hitter's spot for the American League.
As the latest round of voting was announced, Ortiz had 4,398,197 votes. Lance Berkman of the Rangers was a distant second, with 2,004,388 votes.
If the general public is surprised that Ortiz is having another prolific season at the age of 37, Big Papi expects that type of performance. Only he knows exactly what he does behind the scenes.
"If you take care of yourself, you can put yourself in a good situation," said Ortiz. "Four years ago, I started doing things better to feel better. The reason I'm doing what I'm doing now is because of that. That's the payoff."
A lot has gone into Ortiz's maintenance.
"I was having problems keeping up with my weight," Ortiz said. "When that happened, injuries show up faster. You're getting older, you're not going to be able to move like you used to. So you know that? You've got to give yourself a chance to maintain yourself at this level. How do you do that? Hard work. I dropped 30 pounds. I've been resting more and eating better. Everything around has to be better for you to get to that point."
When Ortiz first returned from the disabled list, there was talk that he would need to rest every three or four days.
Instead, he has been playing just about every day. Sunday marked the first day off for Ortiz after starting 29 straight games.
"My manager always asks me, 'Hey, do you need a day off?' Some days I feel sore, but I don't want to let my teammates down," Ortiz said. "I know the lineup needs me. Throw me into the fire, you know what I'm saying? I love playing. I love the game. I love my teammates. I love this ballclub."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period but can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, fans must be logged into an MLB.com account when submitting any online ballot. To obtain an MLB.com account, visit www.mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans can also once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league whom they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2013 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 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 15.
Though originally scheduled for July 7, the 2013 rosters will now be unveiled Saturday, July 6, at 6:30 p.m. ET on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell. The show will be televised nationally on FOX.
From July 6 to July 11, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
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 2013 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 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th 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 SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Unlike last season, when Ortiz was Boston's lone All-Star, he hopes to have company this season.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia has certainly made a strong case by putting together a fine all-around season.
Pedroia has 2,838,129 votes, trailing only Robinson Cano (3,974,322) of the Yankees.
Though Jacoby Ellsbury ranks eighth in the outfield with 1,751,022, he remains within striking distance of Jose Bautista, who is currently in possession of the third and final starting spot with 2,679,230 votes. Ellsbury is looking to become an All-Star for the second time in the last three years.
Shane Victorino, who is having a solid first season in Boston, is 14th among outfielders with 1,059,429 votes.
Mike Napoli, who has switched positions from catcher to first base this season, is fourth at his position with 1,123,281 votes.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who gives the Red Sox a power threat behind the plate, is fifth among catchers with 1,256,505 votes.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTING
(as of July 1)
Chris Davis, Orioles 5,468,703
Prince Fielder, Tigers 3,280,681
Albert Pujols, Angels 1,140,420
Mike Napoli, Red Sox 1,123,281
Mitch Moreland, Rangers 1,007,675
Robinson Cano, Yankees 3,974,322
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 2,838,129
Ian Kinsler, Rangers 1,767,806
Omar Infante, Tigers 1,554,514
Jose Altuve, Astros 1,227,462
J.J. Hardy, Orioles 3,509,180
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers 2,505,348
Elvis Andrus, Rangers 2,122,770
Jed Lowrie, Athletics 1,491,376
Jose Reyes, Blue Jays 1,091,707
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 5,844,165
Manny Machado, Orioles 2,752,627
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 1,792,809
Evan Longoria, Rays 1,528,877
Josh Donaldson, Athletics 827,381
Joe Mauer, Twins 3,869,330
Matt Wieters, Orioles 2,677,959
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers 1,441,827
Carlos Santana, Indians 1,285,650
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox 1,256,505
David Ortiz, Red Sox 4,398,197
Lance Berkman, Rangers 2,004,388
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays 1,688,099
Victor Martinez, Tigers 1,257,577
Mark Trumbo, Angels 1,190,709
Mike Trout, Angels 4,822,983
Adam Jones, Orioles 4,766,256
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 2,679,230
Nick Markakis, Orioles 2,536,864
Torii Hunter, Tigers 2,390,336
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 2,258,797
Nate McLouth, Orioles 2,169,772
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 1,751,022
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics 1,556,700
Coco Crisp, Athletics 1,421,277
Alex Gordon, Royals 1,416,887
Austin Jackson, Tigers 1,306,330
Josh Hamilton, Angels 1,138,518
Shane Victorino, Red Sox 1,059,429
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees 1,003,198
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.