Nelson Cruz likely won’t participate in the Home Run Derby

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Nelson Cruz is tied for the major league lead in home runs with Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion at 25 apiece, but the Orioles slugger says he likely will not participate in the upcoming Home Run Derby at Target Field, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

Though there has been compelling statistical evidence showing that the Home Run Derby does not have an adverse effect on hitters in the second half, Cruz is reticent to participate because he fears that the Home Run Derby could affect his swing.

“I don’t know if it would affect me, but even if it’s two or three games, that could be the difference between us making [the postseason],” Cruz said. “I don’t know if it’s worth that.”

[…]

“It’s not like batting practice, where you’re hitting it all over the field,” Cruz said. “You’re trying to hit a homer on every swing, on every pitch.”

Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles on February 22. As a result of his slashing .284/.351/.575 with 25 home runs and 66 RBI, if his production doesn’t crater in the second half, the 33-year-old Cruz will likely be able to parlay his 2014 performance into a multi-year contract, even if he’ll once again be tied to draft pick compensation.

We learned yesterday that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton accepted National League captain Troy Tulowitzki’s invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby.

If there is an ALCS Game 7, Ric Flair will call out “Play Ball!”

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I don’t really care who wins the ALCS, but part of me wants to see it go seven games now. Why? Because if the Astros win tonight and force a Game 7, the series will be visited by a Rolex-wearin,’ kiss-stealin,’ wheelin-dealin,’ limousine ridin,’ jet flyin,’ son of a gun, jack! From the Chronicle:

The Astros-Yankees American League Championship Series gets to a Game 7, the Astros will have pro wrestling superstar Ric Flair call out “Play Ball!” before the game in a video message. Astros right fielder Josh Reddick is a huge wrestling fan and uses Flair’s entrance music every time he steps to the plate at Minute Maid Park. Fans also have adopted the wrestler’s “Woo!” yell throughout the season.

That’s pretty cool. It’d be even cooler if it ended with a Dusty Finish.