<
>

Pujols, Rios final two additions to Home Run Derby field

Albert Pujols

Pujols

Alexy Rios

Rios

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols has agreed to participate in
Monday night's Home Run Derby, even though the St. Louis Cardinals'
star is mired in a career-worst power slump.

After Pujols and Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays were added on Sunday, Major League Baseball thought it had the final lineup. But then Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera
pulled out because of a jammed left shoulder.

The Derby will be held in San Francisco,
site of Tuesday's All-Star Game.

Pujols' homerless streak reached 22 games and a career-worst 74
at-bats when he went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the Cardinals'
7-0 victory over the Giants on Sunday. He's tied with Chris Duncan
for the team lead with 16 homers and his last homer was off Kansas
City's Jimmy Gobble on June 14.

"I know it's not going to be long before I hit one, but I'm not
going to go out there and look for it," Pujols said. "Every time
I get myself ready I say, 'What can I do today to help my team
win?'

"With my defense, with my at-bats, with whatever I can do."

The All-Star first baseman is batting .310 with 52 RBIs and was
among the league leaders with a .411 on-base percentage. Since his
last homer, Pujols is batting .324 with an impressive .475 on-base
percentage, with 22 walks and a hit by pitch and four doubles. In
the last 10 games he's batting .400.

"I think you'll see he hasn't forgotten how, if you watched
batting practice today," manager Tony La Russa said. "Just watch
where they're pitching him. They're not giving him much to drive."

Throughout the team's seven-game homestand heading into the
break, manager Tony La Russa has criticized talk of Pujols' power
outage, pointing out his run production. He also worried that if
the talk kept up, Pujols might start pressing.

"I don't make anything of Albert. Nothing,'' La Russa said.
"He's elevated his average and he's driving in runs.

"Actually, it's one of those irritating things that gets
brought up.''

Rios is hitting .294 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs. The All-Star
outfielder drove in the winning run in the Blue Jays' 1-0 victory
over Cleveland on Sunday.

Cabrera was in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Dodgers but didn't play and was replaced by Mike Jacobs in the first
inning.

"I tried to swing the bat today, but it hurt when I swung," Cabrera
said. "I felt it was going to be this bad today. I feel sore.
Let's see how I feel at the All-Star Game."

He sustained the injury while making a diving stop Saturday
night.

"He just couldn't get it loose," Marlins manager Fredi
Gonzalez said. "Our training staff said he had it last year a
little bit. But it usually lasts only a day or two and then he's
fine."

Cabrera has 18 homers, the most by a Marlins player at the break
since Carlos Delgado had the same total in 2005.

Rios, Minnesota's Justin Morneau, Vladimir Guerrero of the
Angels and Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers are the AL's
representatives for the Derby. Pujols, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder of the Brewers are
the NL contestants.

The only other time Pujols participated in the Home Run Derby
was at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago in 2003. He made it through
the first round on a tiebreaker before belting 14 homers in the
second round to reach the finals, where he lost 9-8 to Garret
Anderson of the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols hit 49 homers last season and has 266 in his career.

The Cardinals' Jim Edmonds also participated in the Home Run
Derby in 2003 after entering the break with 23 homers, and
aggravated a shoulder injury that hampered him much of the second
half.

La Russa has suggested reducing the number of outs from 10 to
five to avoid injuries, noting that while it might cut down on the
drama it also would cut fatigue.

"The pressure builds, so you put a lot into it,'' La Russa
said. "I think it's more physically demanding than it is risky for
your stroke. It's an ordeal, actually.''

Cardinals first base coach Dave McKay, who also throws some
batting practice, will be throwing to Pujols in the Derby. Pujols
isn't worried about excessive wear and tear.

"I don't try to hit balls 500 feet, I just put my best swings
on it," Pujols said. "We're both going to have fun."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.