All-Star balloting has officially begun

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The All-Star balloting officially kicked off today with a big New York press conference complete with the usual hoopla.  What you want — the ballot — can be found right here.  Once again the ballot also features 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. I couldn’t immediately find the Home Run Derby ballot. Maybe they’ve made a late decision to scrap it, knowing that Justin Upton would just totally own it anyway. Hard to say.

Vote early and often, my friends. And don’t forget to vote for Derek Jeter even though he won’t be able to play. Because it’ll be fun to see someone write the “you know he’d play if he could!” column.

The All-Star Teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 7th on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show. It’ll be televised nationally on TBS.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.