Swat team: Berkman, Cabrera, Tejada in HR Derby
After missing most of June with a strained muscle in his side, Albert Pujols decided he wouldn't miss the Home Run Derby if he didn't participate.
Instead, Lance Berkman will be swatting for the Allegheny River on Monday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
He'll be joined by David Wright of the New York Mets, Ryan Howard of Philadelphia, David Ortiz of Boston, Troy Glaus of Toronto and Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox, Miguel Tejada of Baltimore and Miguel Cabrera of Florida are the final two Home Run Derby participants.
Ortiz has hit 29 home runs this season for Boston, tying him with Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox for the major league lead. Last week in an interleague game at Pittsburgh, Thome hit a ball over the right-field wall that bounced into the Allegheny.
Howard has 28 homers for Philadelphia, tied with Pujols for the NL lead. Tejada, who won the 2004 derby, has 17 homers for Baltimore.
In his home park, Berkman lost in the finals of the 2004 event to Tejada. Berkman came in last in 2002 with just one home run. The switch-hitter will reportedly bat right-handed in this year's event so he doesn't disturb his timing from the left side. Last year's winner, Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu, struggled to homer in the second half of the season after hitting a record 41 homers in last year's contest.
MLB.com reported Thursday that Pujols had withdrawn from the contest. He made the decision following Thursday night's loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"I'm not going," Pujols told the site. "I think my [health] is more important than trying to hit some balls out of the park."
Pujols was edged in the final round of the 2003 Derby by Garret Anderson at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. That was his only appearance in the event.
Pujols, who is hitting .315 with 28 home runs and 73 RBI, said he didn't want to risk reinjuring himself just as he's hitting his stride.
"I've been feeling good since I came off the DL or I wouldn't be playing," Pujols said. "That's for sure."
Berkman said he was excited about participating in the Derby.
"It certainly adds some stress to the week because it's just another opportunity to mess up in front of a whole lot of people," Berkman told MLB.com. "But it's fun, too. The only All-Star Game that I've been to where I wasn't in the Derby was my first one, and that was kind of cool because I was a young guy. But now, I think it would be hard to watch a Home Run Derby. I'd want to get in there and take my hacks anyway."
Milwaukee's Carlos Lee withdrew earlier because of a sore hand.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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