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Home Run Derby field taking shape
Brewers slugger Lee opts out of July 10 competition
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
The field for the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on ESPN lost one participant Monday, but others -- including David Wright of the Mets, David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Troy Glaus of the Blue Jays -- confirmed their plans to participate in next Monday's event at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Milwaukee's Carlos Lee, however, will not be taking part in the Derby.
Team trainers examined Lee's sore right hand again Monday and the outfielder decided not to risk further injury by competing in the Derby.
"I talked to the trainers about it, and they said it would be a good idea to rest it a little bit during the All-Star break," Lee said. "Don't take many swings. It's a little sore. I want to make sure I don't aggravate it. It takes awhile to warm up and get loose, but it doesn't affect my swing."
Lee participated in last season's Derby at Comerica Park in Detroit. He hit 11 home runs in the first round and advanced to the semifinals before bowing out and finishing third after hitting five home runs in the semis. Brewers manager Ned Yost said the decision to skip this year's Derby wasn't solely up to Lee.
"It's everybody's choice," Yost said.
Lee's departure leaves five others tentatively scheduled to compete: Ortiz, Wright, Glaus, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox. Three other spots are to be determined.
Dye said Monday he has heard nothing official since the initial invitation.
"I said if I was chosen, I would probably do it, but nobody has told me I was actually put in it," Dye said. "It will be a good experience. I'll go out there and have fun and do what I can do."
Dye's 21st home run, coming in the second inning Monday, leaves him in eighth place in the American League through Monday. Dye has seven seasons with at least 20 home runs, and his career high was 33 with Kansas City in 2000.
I'll just treat it like batting practice," said Dye, who has never participated in any sort of home run contest. "I know I'm not going to be a favorite, especially not in that ballpark, where right field is pretty short. So I'm sure left-handers have the advantage. I'll try to put that out of my mind and go out there and try to get some pitches I can hit."
Ortiz put on a show to remember in the first round of last year's competition at Comerica Park, belting 17 homers. But he couldn't keep up with eventual winner Bobby Abreu.
"It gets you tired," said Ortiz.
Ortiz has blossomed into a superstar since his arrival in Boston in 2003. He clubbed 31 homers his first year with the team, followed by 41 in '04 and 47 last year. Big Papi is doing his thing again this year, as he ripped 26 homers in his first 79 games.
Like Ortiz, Wright is looking forward to the Derby.
"It will be a fun competition that I'll be proud to participate in," Wright said. "I hope no one's counting on me to win. There'll be some big bats there."
Glaus, who competed in the Derby once previously in 2001, will be one of four American League sluggers on the card.
Glaus -- one of five All-Star selections for the Jays this year -- entered Monday with 22 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .534 slugging percentage. His 22 long balls ranked fourth in the league and were the most by any AL third baseman. Glaus is currently on pace to crack 40 home runs for the third time in his nine-year career.
"It's a fun event," Glaus said. "It's not something that everyone gets to do."
The field for the Derby historically fluctuates in the days leading up to the event, and with six days to go before the All-Star break, nagging injuries could jumble this field.
Ivan Rodriguez of Detroit, Miguel Tejada of Baltimore, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, Jim Thome of the White Sox, Jason Bay of Pittsburgh and Andruw Jones of the Braves have already said they will not participate in the Derby this year. Others, like Albert Pujols of St. Louis and Lance Berkman of Houston, are unlikely to compete, but haven't completely ruled it out.
There are plenty of other candidates for the vacancies, such as Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels, Chase Utley of the Phillies, Matt Holliday of Colorado or perhaps one of the Final Vote candidates like Travis Hafner of Cleveland or Abreu of Philadelphia. Abreu won the event last year at Comerica Park as he set records for a single round, the championship round and the total for all three rounds of the Derby.
Holliday said he would compete if asked.
"I would be willing to do it if they want me to," Holliday said. "I wouldn't have to change much. I would try to actually take it a lot easier. When you get in a competition, usually the harder you try, the worse you do, so I don't know. If I did, I'd probably practice and take the cage back [farther from the plate], because I know it's different with no cage like you have in batting practice. I have to have a little game plan for it."
The Home Run Derby on ESPN will begin at 8 p.m ET on Monday, July 10.
Jul 4 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt reports Milwaukee Brewers OF Carlos Lee (hand) has withdrawn from the Home Run Derby due to a sore left hand.
J.C.Fighter wrote:Jul 4 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt reports Milwaukee Brewers OF Carlos Lee (hand) has withdrawn from the Home Run Derby due to a sore left hand.
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