07/06/05 10:15 PM ET
Teixeira latest to join Derby field
Seven of eight participants set
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Mark Teixeira is the latest slugger to confirm participation in the Derby, which leaves just one spot open. Atlanta slugger and Major League home run leader Andruw Jones, Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu, Milwaukee's Carlos Lee, Pittsburgh's Jason Bay and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez have accepted invitations. Red Sox power source David Ortiz is also going, according to a published report.
Thus far, Major League Baseball has experienced little trouble fielding a squad of All-Stars from different countries to celebrate the game's international flavor and promote next spring's World Baseball Classic. The tough part for many countries was deciding which player would go.
Three of the top seven home-run hitters in the American league through Wednesday hail from the Dominican Republic: Ortiz, Texas' Alfonso Soriano and defending Home Run Derby champion Miguel Tejada. And that doesn't include feared sluggers Vladimir Guerrero and Albert Pujols. However, the choice became easier over the weekend, when Tejada told reporters he would rather see Ortiz represent his country.
"That's enough," Tejada said Saturday when asked whether he wanted to compete again. "I vote for [Ortiz]. I want David to be the guy. David Ortiz is our home-run king in the Dominican. I am going to suggest that he represent us in the Derby."
The Boston Herald first reported Tuesday that Ortiz accepted his invitation.
Pujols applauded the choice. "I had a great time when I did it, and I would love to do it again, represent my country, but we also have a great guy representing our country in David Ortiz," he said. "We've got a lot of guys. ... Tejada, he put on a show last year. So any of those guys, you can't go wrong with any of those guys. I just wish him (Ortiz) the best."
Teixeira shares the AL home run lead with 22. His participation marks the fifth time in the last six years that a Ranger has been in the field.
"I'm very excited about it," Teixeira said before the Rangers' game against Boston on Wednesday. "Hopefully it will be a great time. I'm sure it will be. It's quite an honor to represent the country."
Abreu will represent Venezuela, a country that has also produced young Marlins hitter Miguel Cabrera. Abreu had 18 home runs in 305 at-bats through Tuesday, with 11 coming in May. Last year, he celebrated the opening of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with his second 30-homer season in four years.
Upon confirming his participation in the Derby, Rodriguez immediately proclaimed the obvious -- that he's not a home-run hitter. He's the only confirmed member of the field without a double-digit home run total, though he's seen several fly balls die at the Comerica Park warning track this year.
"I'm not a power hitter," Rodriguez said, "but I'm Puerto Rican. So I'll go out there and do my best."
Also hailing from Puerto Rico is Carlos Beltran, who has more of a track record of power. However, Beltran is also mired in the single digits, with nine homers in 76 games through Tuesday. He's also not from Detroit; the host city has had a player in every Home Run Derby since 1997 but one.
Jones, Lee and Bay didn't have much competition to earn their countries' honors, not that it would've mattered. With 12 home runs over a 15-game stretch in June, Jones powered his way past Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee and into the Major League lead. One of just five natives of Curacao to play in the Major Leagues, and the only one currently active, he'll represent the Netherlands, the only European country to have a part in the contest.
Lee will hit for the pride of Panama on the strength of his 22 home runs through Tuesday. He knows Comerica Park well from his days with the White Sox -- he hit .386 there with six home runs in 41 games. He's the third Brewer in four years to take part in the event.
"He's got massive power. Stupid power," Brewers third base coach Rich Donnelly said. "He doesn't come up in [batting practice] and hit every ball out; Carlos works the ball around. But when he wants to try it, he's the best I've ever seen."
Bay isn't the only slugger in the Majors to hail from Canada -- Larry Walker and Justin Morneau also hit their way into the big leagues from up north -- but he's the only one in the All-Star Game. With 16 homers through Tuesday and a 26-homer rookie season last year, Bay will be the first Pirate to take part in the Derby since Barry Bonds did in 1992.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.