NEW YORK - Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez will skip the All-Star Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium next month, choosing to protect his finely tuned swing.
The reigning AL MVP participated in three derbies before he joined the Yankees in 2004 and he feels the made-for-TV event held the night before the July 15 All-Star game can have an adverse affect on a batter’s mechanics.
“Always has for me,” Rodriguez said Tuesday before the Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez spoke briefly on the subject on a day rumors about his personal life were published on a celebrity-gossip magazine’s Web site.
Us Magazine.com first reported that Rodriguez has been spending time at Madonna’s apartment, perhaps even on the night his second child was born. Rodriguez refused to address the topic on three occasions Tuesday, once saying “no” when asked if he had any comment.
Rodriguez’s Yankees teammate, Bobby Abreu, slumped in the second half of the season he won the Home Run Derby while he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. He understood A-Rod’s position, even though fans would be tantalized by seeing the youngest player to reach 500 homers take his cuts in the final All-Star game to be held in the House that Ruth Built. Yankee Stadium is closing after this season.
“I know it’s a show, but we want him for the rest of the season to be good and not to struggle to find his swing,” Abreu said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had no problem with Rodriguez’s decision. He said most players’ main goal is to win a World Series — in his 15th season, Rodriguez has not won one — and that it’s understandable they wouldn’t want to jeopardize that by participating in a hitting exhibition.
“I think people want to see, in a sense, the greatest stars in the Home Run Derby,” he said. “Fans want to see them come up and hit 550 foot home runs. You know what? They’re going to see a lot of that anyway.”
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