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BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox fans worried about David Ortiz potentially “messing up” his swing in the Home Run Derby can relax, as the Sox’ designated hitter turned down an invitation to the competition by American League team captain Robinson Cano.
The New York Daily News reported that Ortiz, along with Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista, was asked by Cano to participate but that the 36-year-old said he’d pass. Instead, Mark Trumbo will hit for the AL.
“He said he wanted to rest,” Cano told the paper.
The Home Run Derby is a point of contention just about every year among players, fans and analysts, some of whom believe participating in the event can affect a player’s swing for the worse in the second half of the season. The most recent case involves Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who belted 31 bombs in the event last season but hit just 10 home runs in the second half of the season after hitting 17 in the first half. That perceived swing alteration has been cited as a partial explanation of Gonzalez’s low total of six home runs this season.
Bobby Abreu’s 2005 performance is also pointed to as an example of the derby messing with a player’s swing. The then-Phillie hit 41 homers in the competition, including 24 in the first round, but he hit just six home runs in the second half of the season after belting 18 in the first half.
The argument is certainly selective, though. Cano was last year’s winner, besting Gonzalez with 32 home runs, and he would go on to hit 13 home runs in the second half after hitting 15 in the first half. He also has 20 home runs this season. Ortiz, too, was the winner in 2010, when he hit 32 homers in the competition. That night didn’t slow his second-half production, as he hit 14 homers the rest of the way, so this year’s decision likely isn’t rooted in any fear of losing his swing.