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Ichiro now second in AL outfielder voting

Ichiro now second in AL outfielder voting

SEATTLE -- And down the stretch they come.

With time running out on the fan balloting to select the All-Star Game starters, Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki has moved into second place, behind Jason Bay, among American League outfielders, according to figures released on Tuesday by Major League Baseball.

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Ichiro, who is bearing down on his ninth consecutive invitation to the Midsummer Classic, moved ahead of Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton in the past week. Meanwhile, Seattle teammate Ken Griffey Jr. remained in ninth place. They are the only two Mariners listed among the league leaders.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 8:59 p.m. PT.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game, hosted by St. Louis' Busch Stadium on July 14, will will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Ichiro keeps sailing along, nearing the 100-hit mark in a season that he started nine games later than most MLB players. He missed the first eight games while recovering from a bleeding ulcer.

He is the only MLB player since 1901 to reach the 200-hit plateau eight consecutive seasons and would tie Ty Cobb for the second-most 200-hit seasons in history. Pete Rose has the most 200-hit seasons with 10.

While Rose needed 17 seasons to reach the top, and Cobb's ninth 200-hit season came in his 20th season, Ichiro is an impressive 8-for-8 in his MLB career.

Ichiro is also trying to extend his consecutive All-Star Game selection streak to nine straight, which would move him within one of Griffey's franchise record.

Since signing with the Mariners prior to the 2001 season, Ichiro has been an All-Star starter in seven of his eight seasons.

Griffey, a 10-time All-Star with the Mariners from 1990-1999, has scuffled during his homecoming season, but he remains a fan favorite, which is reflected in the vote total.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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