A-Rod passing on Home Run Derby

Updated: July 2, 2008, 9:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

He's the leading vote-getter in the American League and a candidate to start at third base in the All-Star Game at his home ballpark. But Alex Rodriguez won't be taking part in the Home Run Derby the night before the midsummer classic at Yankee Stadium.

Stark on Mike & Mike

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says he doesn't like Alex Rodriguez's reasoning for wanting to sit out the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby. Listen Insider

Like a number of players, A-Rod is concerned that taking part in the Home Run Derby can damage his swing.

"I try to stay away from that," Rodriguez said, according to the New York Daily News. "My responsibility is to the New York Yankees. I need my swing to be at its best."

According to the report, Rodriguez said he has been contacted by Major League Baseball, though he hasn't spoken directly with officials.

"I'm assuming [the Derby is] what it's about, but I don't know," he said, according to the Daily News.

A-Rod has taken part in the Home Run Derby three times, most recently in 2002, never finishing higher than sixth.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would leave the decision on taking part in the contest up to his players.

"I don't really have a problem with it. My biggest thing is, just don't get hurt," Girardi said, according to the Daily News. "If a player feels it messes with his swing, I understand him not wanting to do it. But if a guy wants to do it, I'm not going to say no."

A-Rod hit his 16th homer of the season and 534th of his career for the Yankees on Monday night, tying Jimmie Foxx for 14th place on the career home run list.

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