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Joey Gallo declined an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby

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The annual All-Star Game festivities are just nine days away, which means we’re nine days closer to watching the best sluggers in professional baseball light up the Marlins’ home run machine during the Home Run Derby. Not everyone is prepared to take on reigning Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton, however. Rangers’ third baseman Joey Gallo reportedly declined his invitation to the home run contest, telling reporters that he didn’t feel he had earned the right to compete against more seasoned All-Stars.

“I don’t feel comfortable doing it right now in my career,” the slugger said, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. “I just want to put my head down and do what I need to do to get better. If I get a little more well-rounded as a hitter, I’d like to do it. But I’m not an All-Star and I respect that you should earn it. Others deserve it more than me.”

Entering Saturday, the 23-year-old infielder has racked up 21 home runs so far this season, blowing well past his previous single-season record of six home runs and ranking fifth among all major league batters in total homers. In fact, he hasn’t been able to anything but mash taters for the Rangers, dragging a .194 average and .301 on-base percentage through his first 279 PA. It’s this lack of well-roundedness that has likely precluded him from an All-Star nomination, though Grant points out that Derby selections aren’t limited to the pool of All-Stars.

Then again, some may argue that entering a competition against renowned slugger Giancarlo Stanton is a fool’s errand to begin with (unless, perhaps, your name begins with “Aaron” and ends with “Judge”). Through Friday’s games, 14 major league batters boast at least 20 home runs in 2017, including league-leader Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Justin Smoak, Eric Thames, and so on. At least one other contender has officially committed to the task so far: Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano, who carries 18 home runs to Stanton’s 21 this year.

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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