Cruz willing to throw his hat into Derby

Cruz open to Home Run Derby

SEATTLE -- The Rangers' most well-known slugger won't be in the State Farm Home Run Derby this season.

But one of their most productive ones said he'd be willing to give it a shot.

Fresh off the news that he'd been added to the American League roster as a replacement for injured Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz said he'd participate in the Derby on Monday in St. Louis if the opportunity presents itself.

"They haven't asked me yet," Cruz said prior to Friday's game against Seattle. "I will go if they ask me."

If the call comes -- and since Cruz is tied for second in the AL with 21 dingers this season, it's definitely a possibility -- Cruz could make sure the Rangers are represented in the Derby for the second consecutive season.

Fellow All-Star and teammate Josh Hamilton, who just returned from the disabled list on Monday, will play in the Midsummer Classic but said that after two stints on the DL this season, he doesn't want to risk further injury by participating.

"It's a big disappointment," Hamilton said. "I wasn't going to hold out after how well last year went. If I hadn't gone back on the DL a second time, I would have done it."

Hamilton put on a show in the first round at Yankee Stadium, breaking the record for most homers in a round with 28. He took second place, losing by 5-3 to Minnesota's Justin Morneau in the final round.

Cruz isn't sure if he can match Hamilton's tape-measure blasts, though.

"I know Josh can do it if he'd been healthy, but his situation where it is now, he's not allowed to," Cruz said.

"I don't know if I'd do it like Josh," he added with a smile.

Detroit's Brandon Inge and Minnesota's Joe Mauer are the only two players from the AL to accept Derby invitations so far. St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols, Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard, San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder are the National League participants to date.

The All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (8-6, 3.34 ERA)
Millwood lost for only the second time in his last eight starts when he was beaten by the Angels, 9-4, on Monday. He tied a career high by allowing nine runs in five innings. He was 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts in June but has a 10.33 ERA in two starts in July. He is 8-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 19 career starts against the Mariners and is 3-6 with a 5.18 ERA in 11 starts at Safeco Field. He won there, 6-5, on May 4 to snap a four-game losing streak against the Mariners.

SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (5-6, 3.08 ERA)
Washburn pitched one of the best games ever by a Mariner at Safeco Field his last time out, as he twirled a one-hitter in a 5-0 win over Baltimore. Washburn retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced, allowing only a soft single to left field in the fourth inning. It was the fourth shutout of his career, the 10th one-hitter in franchise history and the first at Safeco Field by a Seattle pitcher. His four-seam and two-seam fastballs were especially effective, as he needed to throw just one changeup the entire game. Washburn is 8-8 with a 4.29 ERA in his career against Texas.

Cruz was back in the lineup on Friday against the Mariners after sitting the previous three games. ... Manager Ron Washington said outfielder David Murphy had some swelling in his right ring finger after diving for a ball in Thursday's game. Cruz took his place in the lineup. "We were going to wait for [Murphy] to go in the cage and see how he felt, but I've got a healthy body, so this gives David a chance to let that swelling go down a little bit," Washington said. ... Second baseman Ian Kinsler is 21-for-21 in his career in stolen base attempts of third base, after swiping third in the sixth inning on Thursday. ... Dustin Nippert will get the start in Sunday's series finale, the last game before the All-Star break.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KRLD 1080, KFLC 1270 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Rangers (Dustin Nippert, 0-0, 7.36) at Mariners (Erik Bedard, 5-2, 2.58), 3:10 p.m. CT
• Monday-Thursday: All-Star break

Christian Caple is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.