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No HR Derby exposure for Arrieta; settles for naked-pitching pics

Jake Arrieta tees off on the longest home run by a pitcher this season, April 10 in Arizona.

NEW YORK – The man on the cover of ESPN magazine’s annual Body Issue won’t be hitting in any home run derbies this month, with or without his clothes on.

After briefly considering a pitchers bracket for the All-Star Home Run Derby, major league baseball decided against staging the added event – at least this year – sources said.

“Bumgarner’s scared,” Arrieta cracked. “He doesn’t want to finish second.”

Arrieta and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants ace, were the most vocal advocates for a homer derby for pitchers (or as some industry insiders considered it, the oblique-strain watch).

In fact, Bumgarner, who was allowed to hit for himself in Oakland Thursday instead of the Giants using a DH, lobbied to get into the actual derby.

“That’s just foolish,” said Arrieta, who’s hitting .294 and tied with Bumgarner and the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard for the MLB pitcher’s lead at two homers. “I love Madison, but let the position players do that.

“But if he wants to go toe to toe, I’ll give him a run for it.”

At least until next year, Arrieta will have to settle for pitching matchups – and making his other impacts on magazine covers.

Photos from his ESPN shoot in the desert during spring training were unveiled Friday ahead of the July 6 issue, showing him naked in various pitching poses. Arrieta, who discussed details of the shoot (including what he did with his “junk”) with the Sun-Times last month, is one of 19 athletes included in the issue and is featured on one of the regional covers.

“It’s a pretty cool honor,” he said. “Some of the pictures have circulated. They look good. From what I’ve seen they did a great job.”

Asked if he’d ever pitched in the nude before, Arrieta said, “Just in front of my wife in the room, just doing some dry drills.”

Not that it prepared him for the cameras.

“It didn’t feel normal,” he added “but that was the scenario, and I just went with it. It was fun.”

As for whether he left himself exposed to a magazine cover jinx, “I guess we’ll find out,” he said.