When David Ortiz's right Achilles injury from last season lingered all the way through Spring Training and into the early part of the regular season, it was fair to wonder if the slugger would be able to regain his groove.
But from the day Ortiz returned on April 20, he made it apparent that he was still the Big Papi of old and not an old Big Papi.
In the latest round of All-Star balloting, Ortiz held a commanding lead at the designated hitter spot. With 3,247,462 votes, Ortiz has more than twice the fan support as his nearest competitor, Lance Berkman of the Rangers, who has 1,519,503 votes.
Entering Saturday, Ortiz's 54 RBIs since his season debut on April 20 are the most in the Majors over that time span.
"I know I'm one of the forces on this ballclub and I know I have to bring something to the table for us to win games," said Ortiz. "I worked hard to get to that point. And here we are. A lot of people thought the Red Sox giving me that contract at my age was wrong."
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, July 4, 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 Saturday, July 6 to Thursday, 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.
Ortiz is vying to become an All-Star for the ninth time in his 11 seasons with the Red Sox.
Dustin Pedroia is certainly making a strong case to join Ortiz in New York. The sparkplug second baseman is second at his position with 2,135,499 votes, trailing Robinson Cano (3,032,183). Pedroia is a three-time All-Star, but is looking for his first selection since 2010.
Mike Napoli, who has switched positions from catcher to first base this season, is third at his position with 902,562 votes, trailing Chris Davis (3,960,299) and Prince Fielder (2,579,031).
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has been hot at the plate recently, is fifth among catchers with 966,196 votes, trailing Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Santana.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who has warmed up of late after a slow start, is eighth among outfielders with 1,289,195 votes. Shane Victorino, who has had a terrific first season for Boston at the plate and in the field, is 14th in the outfield race with 823,363 votes. The Orioles' Nick Markakis is currently in possession of the third and final outfield spot with 1,915,860.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.