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Monday, June 25
Updated: June 27, 5:07 PM ET
Bell says Ripken can start if he wants news services

Ichiro will appear on cover
Ichiro has won a spot on the cover of the programs for the All-Star game even though voting for the starters has not yet ended, Major League Baseball said on Monday.

The Seattle Mariners outfielder, who currently leads all vote getters in both leagues in fan balloting, will be featured on one of five collectible All-Star Game programs that go on sale in the game's host city of Seattle on July 6.

Ichiro joins a quartet of former All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award winners in Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza.

-- Reuters

If Cal Ripken is going to go out as an All-Star starter, he has some ground to make up.

Seattle's David Bell has taken a narrow lead over Anaheim's Troy Glaus (last year's AL home run champ) and Ripken (future Hall of Famer who is retiring at the end of the season) in the latest All-Star balloting.

Bell, however, said he would yield the starting third-base assignment if asked to do so by Ripken.

"I don't know if I'm in a position to do that," Bell told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "But if Cal asked me to do that, I would. I'm a big fan of his."

Bell joins teammates Ichiro Suzuki (OF), Bret Boone (2B), Edgar Martinez (DH) and John Olerud (1B) as the leading vote-getters at their respective positions.

Ichiro maintains his lead as the AL's top vote-getter with 1,734,905 votes.

Bell, with 612,665 votes, has passed both Glaus (579,416) and Ripken (558,336), heading into the final week of voting. For the season, Bell is hitting .250 with seven home runs and 34 RBI and is vying for his first trip to the All-Star game, which will be played July 10 at Seattle's Safeco Field.

Other American League position leaders are shortstop Alex Rodriguez (764,139) and catcher Ivan Rodriguez (1,204,132) of the Texas Rangers; and outfielders Manny Ramirez (1,062,582) of the Boston Red Sox and Juan Gonzalez (786,544) of the Cleveland Indians.

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