SAN FRANCISCO — The official announcement won’t come until Wednesday night, but the Cubs have drawn starring roles for what might be the most powerful event of All-Star week in Washington.
Second baseman Javy Baez and left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who entered Tuesday night’s game tied for the Cubs’ lead with 17 homers, make up half of the National League field for the Home Run Derby on Monday.
They join the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Dodgers’ Max Muncy on the NL side of the eight-player bracket.
“A lot of people have the question on their mind how I’m going to do,” said the big-swinging Baez, a first-year All-Star voted into the starting lineup by fans, of the event that is built for his style. “It’s all about putting on a show and having fun. We’ll see what happens.”
Schwarber, who might have the most natural power among Cubs hitters, was invited despite not being selected as an All-Star.
“It’ll be fun, especially with Javy in there, too,” said Schwarber. “I know what kind of BP that guy takes. It’s going to be pretty fun to watch him and me just go have fun and just soak up the moment.
“It’s on the bucket list, being in the Home Run Derby.”
It’s the first time the Cubs have had a participant in the Home Run Derby since Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant both participated in 2015.
“It’s one of those things, you grew up watching [Ken] Griffey and [Mark] McGwire and all those guys doing it,” Schwarber said. “Not that I can do it, it’s definitely a thing that I want to do and at least try once.”
Many hitters in recent years have declined invitations because of the potential effects on their swings and, in Bryant’s and Rizzo’s cases, the fatigue factor.
The last two winners, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees, both declined to participate this year.
Neither Baez nor Schwarber seem worried about their swings.
“If I just take it like my last round of batting practice – I think that’s kind of the way I’ll approach it, not try to do too much,” Schwarber said. “Whenever I try to do too much in batting practice, I end up hitting a grounder. So I’ll just go out there and enjoy the moment and have fun.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon is not only fine with his young hitters participating, he said it gives him strong incentive to watch.
“I don’t think it messes your swing up,” Maddon said. “I think it’s just [makes you] tired.”
Organizers addressed that issue, switching from a format that allowed for 10 outs per round to timed rounds.
“I think that’s a much better method,” Maddon said.