CLEVELAND — Jose Abreu hasn’t changed his view of the Home Run Derby.
It’s still not for him.
Abreu, who leads American League first basemen in fan voting for the All-Star Game in Washington in July, wasn’t interested in participating in baseball’s long ball competition when he participated in the Mid-Summer Classic as a rookie in 2014, and that won’t change if he makes his second appearance this year.
“If I’m in the All-Star Game, that’s OK, but [the derby] isn’t one of my goals,” he said through translator Billy Russo.
With 636,666 votes, Abreu leads the Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland (472,245) and the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel (368,863) at his position in the second voting update released Tuesday.
Abreu, who hit 36, 30, 25 and 33 in his first four full seasons in the majors and has 11 this year to go with a .283/.338/.500 hitting line and 26 doubles, said he enjoys watching the Home Run Derby, but he participated in three competitions in Cuba and said he hit a total of six homers.
“I said, ‘This is not for me.’ ‘My swing is not cut out for that,” he said.
Abreu goes to the plate thinking about hitting the ball the opposite way and will turn on pitches over the inner half of the plate. He uses the whole field and rarely tries to go deep.
“A few times [I’ve tried to hit a home run] but it’s not easy,” he said. “When I go to home plate with that approach, it doesn’t happen. So I don’t try to mess around with it.”
Abreu, one of the first Sox to arrive at the park every day, is very much into his routine, including everything from the way he tapes his bats at his locker to his approach during batting practice. Going off his grid and taking part in a home run derby would threaten to mess with the habits that make him a success.
“It’s tough for me because if you want to hit home runs, you have to pull the ball,” he said. “And my mindset, my approach as a hitter, is to hit the ball to right field. You can’t do that and win home run derbies.”
Besides, “I don’t have the patience to take the time, wait between all the at-bats and try to hit homers,” he said. “Too long between at-bats.”