Home Run Derby is built for Javy Baez and his big swing — and Cubs 2B wants in

SHARE Home Run Derby is built for Javy Baez and his big swing — and Cubs 2B wants in

Swing the bat as hard as he can as many times as he can in four minutes?

Where does Javy Baez sign up?

“I’d love to be in it, for sure,” the Cubs’ second baseman said of this year’s All-Star Home Run Derby in Washington next month.

Assuming the Cubs’ home run leader is invited, he could become an instant star attraction in this year’s event – assuming he also can stay out of the way of errant fastballs between now and then.

Baez no sooner talked about his desire to take his big-swing talents to D.C. when just a few hours later he was knocked out of Sunday night’s game by a 90-mph pitch that hit him on the left elbow.

After the initial scare, he fared well enough overnight that x-rays were deemed unnecessary, he declared himself “fine,” and then suggested he’d be ready to return to the lineup Tuesday.

Next up: Bring on the Derby.

“Why not?” said Baez, who is in strong position to earn his first career All-Star selection.

Picture the charismatic Baez — one of the breakout stars and personalities of last year’s World Baseball Classic – taking the stage alongside the Nationals’ Bryce Harper in an event built for his big energy and bigger swing.

Nobody in baseball swings the bat as hard as the Cubs’ fan-favorite.

And center stage is clearing out quickly as many of the game’s power-hitting stars already have said publicly they plan to skip this year’s event, including defending champ Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox have said they won’t go; Angels superstar Mike Trout never has. And Judge’s teammate Giancarlo Stanton, the 2016 champ, reportedly also might decline.

Harper, who hasn’t done it since 2013, said last year he would participate at home in 2018, and MLB already is said to be seeking a commitment.

Even three-time All-Star Anthony Rizzo and two-time selection Kris Bryant – the Cubs’ most recent derby hitters, in 2015 – say they won’t participate if asked.

Many players who refuse cite the negative impact it has on their swings when they come out of the All-Star break. Judge went from .329 with 30 homers and a 1.139 OPS in 84 games before last year’s break to .195 with 14 and a .797 OPS in 60 games after.

For Cubs candidates this year is as much about the stress and fatigue factors of traveling from San Diego Sunday night to Washington for the event Monday, All-Star Game Tuesday, and then back home to open the second half Thursday – a day before the 28 other teams open.

“That’s going to be a really long stretch,” Rizzo said. “To be able to go to the All-Star Game would be amazing. To be able to be asked to be in the Home Run Derby is amazing.

“But his is probably a year I wouldn’t really be too fond of [doing the Derby], just because of the focus on getting this team back to where we want to be.”

Rizzo stopped short of saying he’d prefer Baez not participate.

“Like I said, that’s a long stretch,” he said. “After the [2015] Home Run Derby I was sore for a week after. Flying from San Diego to there, to playing again in 24 hours, it’s a long stretch.”

Baez isn’t worried about travel or fatigue.

“I’m young,” he said. “I can do that.”


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Certainly once. Rizzo and Bryant said it was worth that first time.

“It was so tiring,” Bryant said. “But I did it once. I accomplished my goal. I was able to have my dad pitch to me. Maybe if I have the chance at the end of my career I might do it again.

“Besides,” he added, smiling, “you get guys like Aaron Judge who are going to win every time. You’ve got to measure your competition, too.”

Competition? What competition?

“Maybe after I win it, it would be a different decision,” Baez said. “But I want to be there for the first time.

“We’ll see.”

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