McCutchen not worried that HR Derby will affect Alvarez
Every year before the Home Run Derby there are suggestions, concerns and debates regarding whether participating in the sluggers showcase can harm a batter's swing in the second half of the season.
Andrew McCutchen doesn't buy any of it — especially when the concerns pertain to teammate Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates' third baseman replaced Carlos Gonzalez on the National League Derby roster Thursday.
“It's bogus is the way I look at it,” said McCutchen, who hit 18 home runs before participating in the Derby in 2012 and 13 after the break. “It has nothing to do with it just because you're hitting a few home runs. We're doing it in BP every single day. When we take batting practice we work on line drives and stuff, but we have rounds where all we're trying to do is hit home runs. Pedro hits home runs. That's what he does, so it's not going to mess his swing up at all. It's going out there and doing something that he knows how to do.”
Detroit's Torii Hunter recently said that it took him two to three weeks to rebound mentally from his 2002 Derby experience. Alex Rodriguez, a three-time Derby participant, skipped the 2008 event at Yankee Stadium because he said it damaged his swing. Then there are the statistics belonging to Bobby Abreu and this year's NL captain David Wright that so often are pointed to as evidence that the Derby can have an adverse effect on second-half performance.
Abreu had 18 home runs going into the 2005 Derby. He homered 24 times in the first round alone then went 19 games without a home run and hit just six in the second half. Wright's home runs dropped from 20 in the first half to six in 2006.
However, it turns out even Wright doesn't believe the Derby is a swing killer.
“I did it (at PNC Park in 2006), and I felt like I had a good second half,” Wright said Friday. “Different people have different theories. Maybe some people feel like it does, but I don't.”
Wright did admit that the pressure of the Derby is unique. In some ways it's like batting practice. But the cage isn't there, for one, and, unlike batting practice, players are going 100 percent on every swing. Also, as McCutchen knows, there is the undeniable realization that it is the only sporting event happening in the country, and all eyes are on you.
“In this thing, there's one goal: hit the ball as far as you can,” Wright said. “You get winded and a little achy because you're not used to (using) that amount of force that many times. Then you look at there are cameras coming out of the ground, there's no cage over you, there's 40,000 people staring at you. It's nerve-wracking, no question.”
Alvarez said Thursday that he's excited and ready to go have fun with it.
“I mean, it's just like BP, right? I guess? I've never done it before,” he said. “The best piece of advice I've heard is not to do anything different.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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