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.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.