BALTIMORE -- Nelson Cruz does not have to worry about the Chevrolet Home Run Derby in New York next week. Robinson Cano, who is serving as the team captain for the American League, asked for Cruz's phone number when the Rangers were in New York recently, but never called to recruit him.
Instead, Cano picked Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics even though he is not on the All-Star team. He will join Cano, Chris Davis and defending champion Prince Fielder to represent the AL.
"I want to be in it, but I understand what's more important for the team," said Cruz, who was the runner-up in the 2009 Home Run Derby. "It's a great experience. But at that time, we were in a different situation than we are now."
Cruz, who was selected as a reserve outfielder on the AL squad, was reluctant to participate in the Home Run Derby because of concerns about how his body feels. Some days are better than others, Cruz said. But overall, it has been a good first half as he has played in 87 of the Rangers first 90 games. He went into Wednesday's game hitting .277 with 22 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage.
Nothing seems to be bothering him, and that includes the ever-present rumors surrounding Major League Baseball's ongoing investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to certain prominent players. Cruz is among those who have been linked to the clinic.
Cruz has declined to discuss the matter any more, although that may be difficult to do during his two-day media-intensive stay in New York. But manager Ron Washington believes Cruz can handle it and will still enjoy the All-Star experience.
"However he has been dealing with it, he's been doing a good job with it," Washington said. "You have to give him credit for mental toughness. We have a lot of that in the clubhouse, so I'm not surprised. He has been steadfast. You find out what a person is made of when he has been challenged, and he's met the challenge."
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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.