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Adrian Gonzalez says he will participate in Home Run Derby if called

07.01.11 at 9:03 am ET
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Adrian Gonzalez is ready to redeem himself after being knocked out of the first round of the 2009 Home Run Derby. (AP)

PHILADELPHIA – Adrian Gonzalez’ fate is now in David Ortiz’ hands.

Under the new guidelines of this year’s Home Run Derby, Ortiz has been handed the keys to the car when it comes to picking the American League representatives for the event. The DH – who was named the captain for the AL side – will pick three hitters to join him in going up against the National League.

One candidate, Gonzalez, is officially going on record: if asked by Ortiz, he will answer the call.

“I think if asked it’s something you should do for the fun of it,” the Red Sox first baseman said. “Go out and hit some home runs.”

Gonzalez has participated in the event just one other time, in 2009, not getting out of the first round. At the time of that All-Star Game, he was second in the majors in home runs with 24 (7 behind league-leader Albert Pujols).

As for any concerns about the contest altering his swing – a worry that led Jason Bay to bypass the event in ’09 – Gonzalez dismisses such a notion.

“There are plenty of times where guys try and hit home runs in BP, so you take that same approach,” Gonzalez said. “Nobody will ever go into BP and at one point or another not try to hit a home run. There’s going to be at least five swings you try to hit a home run.”

Gonzalez currently has the fifth-most home runs in the American League with 17, trailing Mark Teixeira (25), Jose Bautista (24), Curtis Granderson (21), Paul Konerko (21) and Nelson Cruz (18).

Typically, one aspect of the endeavor that might play in Gonzalez’ favor is the lefty hitter’s ability to use all fields. Nine of his homers this season have gone to left field, with the rest landing in right or right-center. But, like St. Louis in ’09, the Arizona fences – the site of this season’s game – are fairly symmetrical.

“If the field had an area that was shorter, yeah, I would adjust to the park,” Gonzalez said. “But Arizona is the same everywhere. You use your pull-side, typically. It’s always a lot easier. I think the biggest key is getting strikes from the batting practice pitcher.”

So what went wrong for Gonzalez in ’09? Part of it, he explained, was a travel schedule that allowed him just two hours of sleep after having to rent a mini-van and bus in from Indianapolis. Then there was that batting practice pitcher, who was San Diego coach Ray Crone.

“He’s great, but he wasn’t on his game,” Gonzalez remembered. “It wasn’t his fault, it was my fault because I could have taken more pitches. But it was fun.”

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