ARLINGTON -- Rangers All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz doesn't have plans to compete in the Home Run Derby. Cruz said he hasn't been asked to participate in the event in which he was a runner-up in 2009, but he'd graciously decline if American League captain Robinson Cano asked.
"It's important that we start the second half strong," Cruz said. "I just got to stay back and help."
He's fifth in the AL with 22 home runs and 14.4 at-bats per home run entering Sunday's game. Cruz finished second in the 2009 Derby behind Prince Fielder in St. Louis. The Rangers weren't in playoff contention at the time, and their playoff hunt this year is the main reason he won't compete in the event.
"What we need right now is more important than the Derby," Cruz said. "I would love to go, but I think this time and last time is way different."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said this week he was against players hitting in the Home Run Derby because it messes with their swing. He said it wasn't natural to swing for the fences, but he couldn't stop someone like Cruz from competing in the event.
"I don't think my swing is that good to mess it up more than it already is," Nelson said.
Master Tesfatsionis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.