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Chicago White Sox’s Luis Robert Jr. adds the Home Run Derby to his All-Star activities — joining 2 of his Cuban countrymen

Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. spoke to Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena and Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis García.

Arozarena and García, both from Cuba, had signed up for the Home Run Derby. And they wanted their countryman Robert to join.

“We all said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Robert said through an interpreter Wednesday.

Major League Baseball announced Robert’s participation in Monday’s event at T-Mobile Park in Seattle — a day before Robert’s first All-Star Game.

“It’s a good experience,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said before Wednesday’s postponed game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “I remember (Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez) doing it and he was pretty pumped about it and he had a really good time.”

Robert, who is second in the American League with 25 home runs, is the top seed in the eight-player bracket. He’ll face Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman in the first round.

Robert plans on practicing the next couple of days.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.

Robert is the first Sox player in the derby since Todd Frazier in 2016. He will be joined by Arozarena, García, Rutschman, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. Alonso is a two-time winner of the event.

“It definitely is an honor to represent Cuba, my country,” Robert said. “I feel proud of it. We left our country with a lot of sacrifices trying to look for a better future. We were able to get that.

“Now being on this stage, being able to represent our country, it’s something that makes you feel happy and just makes you proud and you carry your country wherever you go.”

He laughed when asked about any previous derby experience.

“Yes, in Cuba,” Robert said. “I was talking about that with Adolis a few minutes ago. We said at least we have to break the record that we set in Cuba because we didn’t hit any homers in that competition.”

Robert and Grifol don’t have any concerns about the event affecting his swing.

“I won’t try to pull every single ball because that can create some issues,” Robert said. “I’m just going to go out there and have fun. Hopefully I can do a good job and maybe win. But my main goal is to go out and have fun.”

Grifol said Robert’s “personality is just be who he is, stay calm, take the same swing.”

“You very rarely see him overswing in a game, no matter the counts,” Grifol said. “I was actually talking about that yesterday with some of our hitting guys. It doesn’t matter whether he’s 0-2 or 3-0, it’s almost the same swing, the same effort level.

“So I am anticipating that doesn’t change. He might be a little pumped up about it, but I don’t think his swing’s going to change. I’m not too concerned about it, but he’s a big part of this team. We need him to come back healthy and ready to go for the second half.”

Named to his first All-Star team Sunday, Robert now has something else to anticipate.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel very happy during those two days,” Robert said. “It’s going to be very special for me.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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