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Uehara finishes fourth in AL Final Vote race

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara's quest to win the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by for a trip to the All-Star Game came up short.


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When the voting closed on Thursday afternoon, the winner was Toronto's Steve Delabar, who led for most of the way. Uehara finished fourth in an American League field that also included four other relievers -- Delabar, the Yankees' David Robertson, Tigers right-hander Joaquin Benoit and the Rangers' Tanner Scheppers.

"He's an All-Star for us," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Regardless of what the outward acknowledgements are, he's extremely important to us."

Though he didn't land the All-Star berth that would have allowed him to join teammates David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz in New York, Uehara was happy to even have been considered for the Final Vote.

"I didn't get the news until after [Thursday's] game," Uehara said. "But I was honored that I was even mentioned in the five guys."

When he learned that he had a chance to make the All-Star team, Uehara quipped that he would have to cancel the tee times he had set for the break. Upon finding out that he wouldn't be attending the All-Star game, Uehara plans to get those tee times back, saying, "I'm going to do that right away."

In 41 games this season, Uehara has a 1.83 ERA. He has 55 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings while holding the opposition to a .163 batting average.

Uehara has also served as a mentor this season to fellow Japanese reliever Junichi Tazawa.

"He was a player that I watched growing up and just playing with a player of that kind of status has just been an honor and it's been a fun time just playing with him," said Tazawa.

There is a lot to learn by watching a pitcher like Uehara.

"Just the mound presence and also the fact that he goes after everyone, even in tight spots," Tazawa said. "That's something I'm still trying to learn and trying to incorporate myself. I know there's a lot of learning curve, but hopefully I'll be able to get there."

Red Sox players -- from Andrew Bailey to Mike Napoli to Jon Lester and several others -- did their part to bolster Uehara's candidacy this week, tweeting for fans to cast their vote for Boston's right-hander.

"I wish I was able to become an All-Star, but I really appreciate my teammates getting behind me," Uehara said.

Uehara took over as the closer on June 21, and for the most part, he has flourished in that role.

"I certainly haven't changed anything in the way I've pitched, but maybe the results are a little different," said Uehara.

This was the 12th season of the Final Vote in the Majors. Uehara was hoping to join Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek and Hideki Okajima as Boston players to go to the All-Star Game via the Final Vote.

"We did our best to try and get him in the All-Star Game," Tazawa said. "Unfortunately it didn't work out that way, but the All-Star break he can rest up to contribute in the regular season."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Associate reporter Jacob Thorpe contributed to this story.

Boston Red Sox, Koji Uehara