Donaldson moved by all-star support from fan base


Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

TORONTO – The surge in support that made Josh Donaldson the top vote-getter heading into the final week of all-star game balloting left the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman feeling overwhelmed by the way fans are rallying around him.

Donaldson, who three weeks ago trailed Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas by about 1.7 million votes, picked up more than 2.7 million votes in the last week to take over the lead at the hot corner. His total of 11,738,206 also pushed him past Royals catcher Salavador Perez’s 11,666,785 for the overall lead, in results released by Major League Baseball on Monday.

Several prominent people have pushed for fans to get behind Donaldson, and clearly their efforts are paying off.

“I’ve seen everything from Don Cherry to Stephen Amell and then I’ve seen video of various hockey players telling people to vote for me and coming into this season, I wasn’t expecting something like that, you know what I mean?” Donaldson said. “It’s been pretty surreal, and we’ll see how it finishes up, but I definitely appreciate all the support that’s been given to me.”

Donaldson, voted in as a starter last year with the Oakland Athletics, began the day batting .301/.360/.540 with 18 homers and 48 RBIs in 76 games. He made a spectacular diving catch into the stands last week at Tampa Bay to help preserve Marco Estrada’s perfect game bid that may have also helped his cause.

Either way, Donaldson realizes and is grateful for how quickly he’s been accepted by a new fanbase, although he knows it’s too early to begin celebrating.

“Obviously you don’t really expect it, but at the same time there are still a few days left, you know Kansas City is probably going to make a push,” he said. “So it was cool to see it today, but we’ll see how it finishes.”

Donaldson is also a fan of the revised home run derby format, which seeds the eight participants in a head-to-head duel and scraps the 10 outs each batter was given for a five-minute session per batter, with up to 1:30 extra possible to be earned.

“The players union and I have been in contact pretty much all year about it,” he said. “Last year I was a participant in it and they wanted to see if there are any new ideas, any way to better improve it. I definitely think what they’re doing right now is a step in the right direction with the timer. When you’re in the derby, you don’t really know when you’re going to hit, so if you’re not the first guy, it’s kind of hard to be ready with everything going on. Last year we had the rain delay and it was like, ‘Let’s hurry and try to speed this up, blah, blah, blah.’ This year I think it’s going to be a little cleaner as far as how it’s run, just because you’re going to know you’re up at a certain time. Yeah, there could be bonus time, but as you’re down getting ready, you’ll know.”

The eight participants have yet to be named, but Donaldson said: “I’ve already told them that if I’m one of the guys that gets chosen to do it, I’ll do it again.”

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