Jose Abreu: I’d pass on Home Run Derby invitation
By DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 24, 2014 10:21PM
Updated: June 24, 2014 11:33PM
BALTIMORE — Thanks, but no thanks.
That would be Jose Abreu’s reply if he’s invited to participate in the 2014 Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
‘‘Home Run Derby is not something I’m too crazy about,’’ Abreu told the Sun-Times on Tuesday through a translator. ‘‘It’s a good thing, but I’m not really interested or looking forward to. I really wouldn’t want to do it. I did it in Cuba several times, and I wasn’t much into it.’’
Abreu, 27, has been one of baseball’s most prolific home run hitters in his first season in the major leagues. He went into Tuesday’s game against the Orioles with 22 home runs, third in the majors behind Edwin Encarnacion (24) and the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz (23).
Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista, who were named captains of the Home Run Derby teams Monday, will pick three additional players from their respective leagues. Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who did not make the American League All-Star team in 2013, won last year’s event at Citi Field in New York. Abreu is aware his fellow countryman was the winner, but that hasn’t stoked his interest.
Abreu, who takes a measured, workmanlike approach to his hitting, voiced concerns about how the contest might affect his swing.
‘‘The first thing it does is affect you mentally,’’ he said. ‘‘You go out and try to hit home runs. I’m not a guy who tries to hit home runs. I let them come whenever they come. And sometimes it messes with your mechanics.’’
As for the July 15 All-Star Game, that would be a different story for Abreu, who’s second to Miguel Cabrera in voting among AL first basemen.
‘‘It would be a great thing,’’ Abreu said. ‘‘For any player who plays in the majors and is fortunate enough to go to an All-Star Game is a great thing. If it comes, it’s great. But if it doesn’t, that’s OK, too.’’
Abreu, who missed two weeks with an injured left ankle, led the AL in home run ratio (one per 11.27 at-bats).
‘‘He just gets it on the barrel and it just takes off — it has a lot of hang time,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘When he hits the ball, just because of the way he swings, you don’t think it’s going to go a long way, and all of a sudden it keeps carrying. You think it’s going to start coming down, and it doesn’t come down. I think that’s what really separates him somewhat is he just hits balls that just keep going, even when they’re not perfectly hit.’’