BALTIMORE -- Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has never been on an All-Star team -- or won a Gold Glove Award, for that matter -- but perhaps 2014 is his year.
Certainly Royals fans can give Escobar a push toward the American League All-Star team with their votes as the annual balloting got underway on Friday. The game will be on Tuesday, July 15, in Minnesota.
Escobar has given his candidacy a boost with a hot hitting stretch since a cold start this season. In a recent 10-game tear, he batted .455 (15-for-33) with five doubles and a home run.
That has gone along with his superb fielding acrobatics, which have become so commonplace that the Royals almost -- but not quite -- take them for granted. Just the other night in Cleveland, Escobar's perfect relay cut down a runner at the plate, and he raced from near second base to snag a foul ball beyond third base with a sliding catch. His far-ranging stops in the hole or behind second are highlight-reel standards.
All-Star ballots will be available at Kauffman Stadium starting next Friday through June 11.
Escobar is one of the nine Royals regulars on the ballot. That includes two of the three Royals All-Stars last year: left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez. (Closer Greg Holland was the other.)
Also up for votes are Escobar's infield mates: first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Omar Infante and third baseman Mike Moustakas. Then there's designated hitter Billy Butler, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and right fielder Nori Aoki.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the 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 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.