07/09/2003 7:47 PM ET
Jenkins gets the Final Vote nod
Outfielder thanks team and fans for support
Rosters: AL | NL
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Last June 17, Brewers outfielder Geoff Jenkins was lying at third base with his right foot facing one way and the rest of his leg facing another.
On July 9, 2002 he was lying in bed at home with his leg throbbing inside a heavy cast, watching Richie Sexson and Jose Hernandez represent the Brewers in the All-Star Game at Miller Park.
On Wednesday, Jenkins was standing tall as a first-time All-Star.
"I couldn't have scripted it any better, to be in the All-Star Game," said Jenkins, ready to suit up with Sexson at U.S. Cellular Field on July 15. "This is just great. I'm probably the happiest man in the planet right now."
Jenkins received 2,872,200 votes in the etopps All-Star Final Vote to finish tops among the five National League candidates and earn a spot on Dusty Baker's roster. He was followed in NL voting by Benito Santiago of the San Francisco Giants, Kenny Lofton of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Orlando Cabrera of the Montreal Expos and Luis Castillo of the Florida Marlins.
Boston catcher Jason Varitek received 3,210,509 votes to win the final spot on the American League squad. More than 10.8 million ballots were cast over a three-day voting period, far exceeding last year's three million votes.
To Jenkins, last year seems like a long time ago.
"Last year, you've got those thoughts of, 'Am I going to be able to come back?'" he said. "When you suffer an injury like that you wonder if you're going to be the same player. So I knew I had to dedicate myself this offseason. It was probably four to five hours a day rehab on my ankle alone. That was before hitting and doing anything else.
"I guess I just worked as hard as I could to get back and show Milwaukee, the fans and my teammates and the coaches and the staff that I was the same player."
Mission accomplished. Jenkins entered Wednesday's game batting .286 with 20 home runs and a team-best 68 RBIs, two better than Sexson.
"I put plenty of votes in there, that's for sure," said Sexson, who earned his spot thanks to the players, managers and coaches ballot. "I'm very excited. It says a lot for what the [Brewers] PR people did here. They did a great job to get organized and get everything together."
Jenkins also thanked Brewers media relations director Jon Greenberg and his staff, who organized an unprecedented campaign in the local and national media to promote Jenkins over Santiago, who had the edge after the first round of voting. Even Jenkins thought Santiago had the inside track.
"I thought he had an advantage because of who he is," Jenkins said. "He's been around for a long time, and he was in the World Series last year. He's a great, veteran player and a well-known guy. I thought it would be tough. For everyone to rally around me is great."
Jenkins did scores of interviews for media outlets around the country. His teammates even got in on the action, voting at home and in clubhouse manager Tony Migliaccio's office before games.
"I think Glendon [Rusch] was voting last night when he was charting pitches," Jenkins joked. "You know what, it's really neat when you have a clubhouse of guys like this. For all of them to be that thankful and happy for me, it makes it all the better. It's like I'm playing out there with them."
The fan support was overwhelming, too.
"It was like e-mail after e-mail saying how they were telling people to vote," Jenkins said. "It was really neat. There's nothing I can say, just how thankful I am for them to do that, to think of me for as long as I've been here. It really meant a lot and it's something I'll never forget."
Outfielders Johnny Damon and Andruw Jones were the fans' choices to fill the roster spots last season, and for Damon it also represented his first selection to the All-Star Game. It was the second time around for Jones, who earned a third All-Star trip this season.
The etopps All-Star Final Vote was the second of three ways fans made their voices heard in this year's Midsummer Classic. Fans voted in record numbers for the starters, and will help determine the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in an online vote presented by Pepsi. Fans will have 20 percent of the say in who wins that honor.
"I give all the credit in the world to 'Jenks' for the year he's having," said Brewers hitting coach Butch Wynegar, who helped Jenkins shorten his lead leg kick this season. "He's understood some things and tried to make some adjustments, but he's still not where I think he can be."
Brewers manager Ned Yost got the word of Jenkins' victory just before the end of batting practice at Miller Park. He gathered the team in the clubhouse behind closed doors.
"I told them the voting came in and it was very close between [Jenkins] and Benito Santiago," Yost said, "and we've got a little bit of bad news."
Yost paused and saw several players bow their heads. Then he hit them with the "bad news."
"Benito won't be going to the All-Star Game."
The clubhouse erupted.
"It was a long three days but it was well worth it," Jenkins said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.