NEW YORK (AP) – Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge has been invited to participate in next month’s Home Run Derby.
Judge said Tuesday that he received the invitation last week through his agent but had not yet decided whether to accept.
The 25-year-old outfielder, a towering presence at 6-foot-7, tops the major leagues with 24 home runs after connecting Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels. He is second in the American League with a .333 batting average and 54 RBIs.
“I’m going to think about it for a while,” Judge said. “Just haven’t honestly thought about. I’m more focused on what I can do for the team right now, and we’ll see what I decide to do.”
The derby will be held at Marlins Park in Miami on July 10. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is the defending champion after winning last year at San Diego’s Petco Park.
Judge hit the longest home run of the season, at 495 feet. Growing up, he had thought about what it would be like to swing in the slugger smash-athon.
“Never really dreamed that it would actually happen. It was pretty surreal,” he said.
New York manager Joe Girardi said he isn’t worried about Judge picking up bad habits in his swing because of the repeated exertions in the derby and extra batting practice before the event.
“I watch him take BP, and he uses the whole field. So he’ll do the same thing,” Girardi said. “Players, you want them to go enjoy the All-Star Game because it’s something they’ve earned. But you do worry about fatigue for those guys because they’ve got to travel. The good thing is we have a Sunday day game here. It’ll be easy to get down there. So it shouldn’t be too bad.”
Judge leads AL with 2.6 million votes in fan balloting for starters for the All-Star Game, to be played July 11. Only Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, who tops the National League at 2.8 million, has more.
Judge homered in his first big league plate appearance last Aug. 13. He has hit 11 home runs to the opposite field in right this year, four to center and nine to left, according to Fangraphs.
ESPN, which televises the derby, hopes Judge agrees to join.
“Fans would truly anticipate and enjoy having Aaron Judge, one of the game’s top young stars, take part in this great annual baseball showcase,” network spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
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