<
>

Bryant heads list of six Cubs among All-Star voting leaders

2d

CHICAGO -- Though in a distant second place for each spot, the Chicago Cubs have three infielders close to the top of the voting for the National League All-Star team. Miguel Montero also ranks third among catchers, the league announced Wednesday afternoon.

Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and rookie Kris Bryant join Montero and outfielders Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler on the ballot as the first round of voting was released.

“Cubs fans are the best in baseball,” Bryant said before the Cubs played the Washington Nationals on Wednesday evening. “Anyone on the Cubs gets support. I really can’t say enough about them. They’ve been great. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Bryant trails St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter by more than 500,000 votes, so he has a hill to climb in order to overtake him as the starter. So does Rizzo, who is similarly behind Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

“It would be really cool,” Rizzo said of attending another All-Star Game. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

Rizzo’s first appearance was in 2014; Castro has already been there three times. He might have the best chance of starting in the game as he trails Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta by only 24,167 votes. Meanwhile, Montero is well behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey in voting for catchers.

“I don’t want to be third,” Montero said. “Third is second loser.”

Fowler and Soler show up as the last two outfielders on the ballot -- not that the Cubs center fielder has a problem with being ranked 14th.

The league will update the voting once a week until the end of June. The focus with the Cubs will undoubtedly center around Bryant. Can he make it to the All-Star Game even after starting the season in the minors?

“My goals are never associated with those types of things,” the typically low-key Bryant said. “If I end up getting on the team, that’s just icing on the cake.”

Among third basemen, Bryant ranks fourth in home runs and first in RBIs, and his OPS is third among everyday players, so his statistics put him in the mix even though he missed the first eight games of the season. The Cubs' start to the season has put several players on track for Cincinnati and the mid-summer classic. Rizzo, Castro and Bryant each have legitimate chances; Montero might need a little help from fans or his peers.

“That would be awesome,” Montero said. “We have a lot of all-star talent here. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Bryant added: “It’s cool to see that. Obviously it’s not what you play for.”