HOUSTON — Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs don’t want to participate in the Home Run Derby, which, Todd Frazier says, is unfortunate.
“I hope Bryant goes in there,’’ Frazier said. “That would be like the first [Cubs-Sox] battle before we get going.’’
Frazier was alluding to what will be his first Sox-Cubs interleague set July 25-28. The defending Home Run Derby champion is tied with Mark Trumbo and Bryant for the major league lead with 23 homers, and he hopes to be invited to participate again, although he hadn’t heard anything as of Sunday morning. With a .204 average and Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado and Adrian Beltre leading a stacked group of American Leaguers at his position, Frazier would likely be a long shot to play in the Mid-summer classic July 12 in San Diego.
But he definitely wants to participate in the Derby July 11.
“Some people don’t like it but I enjoy that kind of stuff,’’ he said.
Bryant said the event last year was so long and tiring that “I felt it the next day.” Some players, Sox teammate Jose Abreu included, believe such events have an adverse affect on their swings.
“It’s like this,’’ Frazier said. “In batting practice, you get loose the first couple rounds, then you try to go to right field, then you try and go gap to gap. What does everyone usually do the last round? Try and hit home runs. So basically, if that’s the case, their swing is already messed up, right?
“We all do it. It’s just more swings like that [in a contest] than not. It’s more of an excuse. ‘’
Frazier said he knows what it takes to prepare to hit and knows his work ethic is there, and hitting in the derby won’t hurt him.
“You ‘ve been doing it since you were a little kid – you swing for the fences,’’ he said. “It’s the highlight of the All-Star break and it’s fun for me.’’
Morneu heading to Charlotte
Designated hitter-first baseman Justin Morneau (left elbow) begins a minor-league rehab stint Monday at AAA Charlotte and while he could be in a White Sox uniform after the All-Star break, manager Robin Ventura cautioned that “you are talking about a guy that is sticking his toe in the water trying to figure out exactly what he can do and how much he can push it.’’
Morneau, who signed a one-year $1 million deal with incentives last month, has felt good airing it out in batting practice with the team in Houston.
“”I’m sure I’ll be nervous to be out there and let it fly in a game, but it will be interesting,” Morneau, 35, said.
The Sox have a definite need for a left-handed bat with Morneau’s history.
“His presence in the lineup becomes a bit different than the other guys,’’ Ventura said. “He’s always been a valuable bat in the middle of the lineup. That’s not going to change.”
James Shields, who opposes CC Sabathia and the Yankees Monday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, has strung together two acceptable starts after that streak of four horrible outings. He seems to have found his footing again.
“You don’t want to have those kind of outings, for sure,’’ Shields said. “But I believed in myself and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve been in similar ruts – not that bad of one – in my career, but you just kind of move forward.”
Shields held the Twins to a run over 6 2/3 innings in his last start.
“It was probably a little bit of everything,” he said of getting shelled in his last start with the Padres and first three with the Sox. “Getting behind in the count, not hitting my spots and not locating my fastball were big factors. Obviously luck has a lot to do with it also. You can throw batting practice behind the L screen and not give up some of the hits I was giving up. It’s just the way the game goes sometimes.’’