- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2011

Based on that final balloting update, it appears the American League starting lineup for the All-Star game will be loaded with Yankees and Red Sox.

Here we go again.

Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez. All probably headed to Phoenix, with several other teammates in tow.

That might rankle fans around the country, but take a look at the numbers. With the exception of New York catcher Russell Martin and aging shortstop Derek Jeter, most of the leading vote-getters do indeed deserve those spots.

Who else has earned a trip to the July 12 showcase? Tough choices, as usual.

Prince Fielder or Joey Votto at first base for the National League? Carlos Quentin or Jacoby Ellsbury in the AL outfield? And how many aces can the Phillies put on the pitching staff?

“It can be a little daunting, to be honest,” NL manager Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants said. “Sure, it’s an honor and you’re excited about it, but at the same time you know that somebody’s going to get snubbed, supposedly. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not perfect.”

One superstar who won’t be playing is St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, sidelined by a broken wrist. He highlights a striking list of face-of-the-franchise types who figure to miss this All-Star game because of injuries, slumps _ or both.

Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Chase Utley, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Zimmerman, Carl Crawford, Buster Posey, Justin Morneau, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana.

In their absence, look for talented first-timers such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Rickie Weeks and Matt Kemp.

Following last year’s rule changes, this will be the first time the designated hitter is used in an NL park. There are 34 slots on each roster, with 13 going to pitchers. And every team must be represented, which makes for difficult decisions.

“I’ll be glad when the process is over,” said Texas’ Ron Washington, who will manage the AL squad. “I did my homework, I’ll consult with my coaching staff and I’ll probably reach out to a few guys, a few managers that’s done this before. But I only get so many to choose, and all I have to do is look at the roster that’s been put out there and we’re going to choose according to our need, to make sure we’re covered.”

The league that wins gets home-field advantage in the World Series again, and the NL finally wrested it away last year with its first victory in 13 games since 1996.

So without regard to fan or player balloting, here are our picks for the 82nd All-Star game. Rosters will be announced Sunday.

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