07/07/06 9:12 PM EST
Cabrera, Tejada join Derby pool
Pujols withdraws due to injury concerns, but Berkman is in
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
Cabrera takes the final National League spot, rounding out a field of four that includes three of the games young up-and-coming stars: Cabrera, Mets third baseman David Wright and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Lance Berkman is the fourth NL participant.
"I'm going to have fun," said Cabrera, who has 14 home runs and 60 RBIs to go along with his .342 batting average. "I am going to have fun and be happy."
The Marlins signed Cabrera as a 16-year-old from Venezuela in 1999. A year later, he was impressed by the Home Run Derby heroics of Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr.
"Before I signed, I would see the Home Run Derby, and I wanted to be in it," he said. "Like everybody wants to be in the World Series, I wanted to be in a Home Run Derby."
Tejada, winner of the 2004 HR Derby, joins David Ortiz of Boston, Troy Glaus of Toronto and Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox to represent the American League.
Milwaukee's Carlos Lee withdrew his name from consideration on Monday because of a sore right hand and Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols withdrew his name from consideration on Thursday.
"I'm not going," Pujols said. "I think my [health] is more important than trying to hit some balls out of the park."
Pujols, hitting .315 with 28 home runs and 73 RBIs, returned from the 15-day disabled list on June 22.
"I've been feeling good since I came off the DL or I wouldn't be playing," Pujols said. "That's for sure."
That left two spots still open for the NL, but Berkman confirmed he will take part in Monday's Derby at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Tejada and Cabrera filled the other two slots.
Berkman has participated in two Home Run Derbys: 2002 in Milwaukee and 2004 in Houston. He hit only one home run at Miller Park in Milwaukee but finished as runner-up to Tejada at Minute Maid Park two years ago. Tejada hit 27 homers overall while Berkman finished with 21. In the final round, Tejada edged Berkman, 5-4.
"It certainly adds some stress to the week, because it's just another opportunity to mess up in front of a whole lot of people," Berkman said in jest. "But it's fun, too. The only All-Star Game that I've been to where I wasn't in the Derby was my first one, and that was kind of cool because I was a young guy. But now, I think it would be hard to watch a Home Run Derby. I'd want to get in there and take my hacks anyway."
The switch-hitter will bat right-handed, because he does not want to throw off his timing of his left-handed swing, which was a problem for him in 2002. In the 2004 Derby, Berkman batted right-handed.
Berkman and the other participants will also represent eight lucky fans who will have a chance to win $250,000 toward the purchase of a home during the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Week.
For the eighth consecutive year, CENTURY 21 Real Estate, LLC -- the "Official Real Estate Organization of Major League Baseball" -- has hosted the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby All-Star Sweepstakes in conjunction with the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby competition.
Randomly selected from entries received through www.century21.com, www.century21espanol.com, in-office displays and mail-in entry forms, the finalists will be matched with a 2006 Major League Baseball player competing in the Home Run Derby competition at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The finalist paired with the Major League Baseball player who captures the 2006 Home Run Derby title will win the grand prize.
In addition to the opportunity to win $250,000 toward the purchase of a home, the sweepstakes finalists have been awarded a trip for two to 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Week, July 7-11, courtesy of Century 21 Real Estate, LLC. Last year, Edwin Molina of Long Pond, Pa., won the $250,000 sweepstakes grand prize when Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu launched a Derby-record 41 home runs to win the Derby.
The Home Run Derby will be televised nationally by ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 10. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB.com Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Matthew Leach and Alyson Footer contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.