Bryant to skip HR derby while Arrieta might actually get his shot

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Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant during last year’s Home Run Derby in Cincinnati. | Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – You might see Jake Arrieta in an All-Star Home Run Derby before you see Kris Bryant in another one.

In fact, if internal MLB discussions regarding a potential pitcher’s homer derby gain momentum in the coming weeks, Arrieta might be the only Cub doing an exhibition homer contest during All-Star week in July.

Bryant, who joined Cubs teammate Anthony Rizzo in last year’s Derby in Cincinnati, said he plans to decline this year if asked to participate again, assuming he makes the All-Star team.

Rizzo said he’s “undecided.”

“All I know is it was tough. It was very exhausting,” Bryant said. “And I don’t know if I’d want to do it again. But if [the pitchers] want to, we’ll let them do it.

“I don’t really want to.”

Bryant entered play Tuesday night tied for sixth in the league with 15 home runs. Rizzo had 14.

Even if both decline, Cub fans might still get their representative swinging for the fences during festivities the day before the July 12 All-Star game.

Internal talk regarding a potential pitchers’ derby hasn’t reached a serious stage, but sources suggest if it comes together the event would start with this year’s All-Star week in San Diego.

Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Cubs ace Jake Arrieta have been especially vocal about their desires to participate. The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright also have chimed in with support.

“You talk to a lot of people that don’t like the pitchers to hit, but we love it,” Arrieta said, referring also to Bumgarner. “We take it really seriously.

“People think we can’t hit. Let’s show you we can swing a little bit.”

If Arrieta’s in a homer derby, count on Bryant to be there in support.

“I enjoy watching the home run derby. Growing up I watched it all the time,” Bryant said. “It’s very entertaining. I’ll sit on the grass, do the whole bring-the-Gatorade thing. But I don’t really want to do it.”

Not that the event wasn’t fun, he said.

“It was a cool experience,” Bryant said. “It was just mentally draining for me, whereas I don’t know if I really got to enjoy moment as much as I should have.”

Arrieta, who has the longest home run for a pitcher this season, dismissed all the downside talk, from injury risk to the exhaustion factor – even if he were tapped to start the game the next day.

“It’ll get me loose,” he said.


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