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Shohei Ohtani wants to compete in Home Run Derby

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Angels DH Shohei Ohtani said on Monday, through an interpreter, that he would participate in the 2019 Home Run Derby if invited, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. So far, Major League Baseball hasn’t contacted Ohtani about the event.

Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October and won’t be cleared to pitch until 2020, would have to get the OK from team doctors before participating in the Home Run Derby. He has been able to hit with no restrictions since making his season debut on May 7.

To date, Ohtani has hit .276/.341/.493 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 170 plate appearances this season.

Yankees first baseman Luke Voit has also expressed interest in participating in the Home Run Derby, which will take place on Monday, July 8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The contest has better prizes now, with the total prize pool having been increased to $2.5 million, up from $750,000. The winner gets $1 million, the runner-up gets $500,000, and the other six participants will earn $150,000

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.