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A-Rod to skip Home Run Derby
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07/05/2004 11:34 PM ET
A-Rod to skip Home Run Derby
Cites strained muscle as reason for missing event
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Alex Rodriguez still plans to play in next Tuesday's All-Star Game in Houston. (Paul Connors/AP)
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has decided not to participate in this year's Century 21 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Houston, citing the strained muscle he suffered in Sunday's game against the Mets.

Rodriguez, who was invited to participate in the event, said Monday night that he would have liked to have given it a try, but that his health in the second half of the season was more important.

"I was probably going to do it," Rodriguez said. "With this injury, I can't take any chances."

"He's pretty aware of what's important," said manager Joe Torre. "It probably wouldn't be a good idea."

Rodriguez has taken part in three All-Star Home Run Derby contests, finishing in sixth place during the 2002 event in Milwaukee, and tying for sixth at the 2001 game in Seattle and the 1998 game in Colorado.

2004 Home Run Derby

A-Rod said he felt a "cringe" in his side during his seventh-inning at-bat on Sunday, though he couldn't say whether it was his rib cage or his oblique muscle. Rodriguez started for the Yankees on Monday, breaking out of a 1-for-21 slump with a 2-for-3 night, including a three-run home run, his 20th of the season.

"I think it activated my hands a little, allowed me to be a little more free," he said of the injury. "I had a much better rhythm and was more compact."

Having been elected by the fans to start for the American League at third base, Rodriguez is still planning on playing in the All-Star Game. But apparently, trying to hit that many balls out of Minute Maid Park is something he's not willing to risk as he prepares to make a pennant run with the Yankees.

"I can't do it now," Rodriguez said. "I'll kill myself if I do that."

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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