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Giambi to defend Derby title
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07/12/2003  3:16 PM ET 
Giambi to defend Derby title
First baseman says there's no pressure to repeat
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Jason Giambi hit 14 home runs in the first round of the 2002 All-Star Home Run Derby. (Chris Carlson/AP)
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Now that he's been named to the American League All-Star team, Jason Giambi has some business to take care of in Chicago.

Giambi, who won last year's Home Run Derby in Milwaukee, will participate in this year's event as he tries to defend his title.

"It's a lot of fun," Giambi said. "It's great to participate in it. I enjoy doing it."

Last year, Giambi hit 11 long balls in the first round and six in the second, plus a sudden-death home run to advance to the finals. Giambi outlasted Paul Konerko in a sudden-death round to advance to the finals, where he found Sammy Sosa, the defending champion. Giambi crushed Sosa, 7-1, to win his first Home Run Derby title.

Will his status as defending champion put any more pressure on Giambi?

"No, I'll just have fun with it," he said. "I have a good time and go up there, swinging from my shoe tops. I just let it fly."

Giambi had an impressive showing in Seattle in 2001, bashing 14 homers in the first round before running out of steam in the second. Giambi's performance in 2001 set a new first-round record, edging Mark McGwire's 13 from 1999.

"The fans enjoy seeing how far the guys can hit them," Giambi said. "So do we."

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Giambi will be without Willie Randolph, his pitcher from last season. Randolph, the Yankees' third-base coach, will not be in Chicago for the All-Star Game.

"I'm going to have to find someone to throw to me who can throw strikes and keep pumping them in there," Giambi said. "That makes all the difference in the world."

The Home Run Derby has become one of the most popular events during All-Star week, as baseball's version of the NBA's slam dunk contest has wowed fans for the past few years with tape-measure shots by the sport's biggest sluggers.

"The thing about slam dunk contests now is that everything has been done before," Giambi said. "There's always new stadiums, places that guys have never hit them before. The stadiums make it different every year and keeps it fresh."

How has Giambi fared at U.S. Cellular Field, formerly known as Comiskey Park? In 143 at-bats, Giambi has homered seven times.

"I've done pretty well there," Giambi said. "It's a nice park. When it's hot, it's a good place to hit."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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