We can safely cross one of the most appealing names off the list of potential Home Run Derby contestants for next month's event in Minneapolis. Through the assistance of his translator, Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu told Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that appearing in the Derby is not something he's interesting in doing, and based on his words there's probably not a lot anyone can say to change his mind.
“Home Run Derby is not something I’m too crazy about. 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.’’
You're breaking our hearts, Jose.
Abreu seemed like a lock to be one of captain Jose Bautista's choices for the American League, especially now that the rosters have expanded to five hitters in each league. He also would have been one the league's top drawing cards for the event as the 27-year-old rookie who has taken the league by storm after defecting from Cuba in 2013. Not to mention the built in storyline of could he repeat fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes' performance last season and win a second straight Derby representing their country.
It seems we'll never know what could have been, but we're admittedly looking at this somewhat selfishly. Taking what we want out of the equation, Abreu's honesty and dedication to being at his best for the White Sox is commendable.
“The first thing it does is affect you mentally,’’ he said through a translator. “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.’’
It's always debated how much participating in the Home Run Derby truly impacts a player in the weeks and months that follow. Abreu, though, has apparently experienced enough of them in Cuba to know how it impacts his game, so he's making his decision based off that experience.
Abreu was on our list of players we were really hoping to see taking his cuts at Target Field, which makes these comments all the more disappointing. But there are still plenty of intriguing names who could participate. Here's another look at our list of candidates.
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