Longoria aims for solid Derby showing
Rookie excited at opportunity, hoping for good performance
CLEVELAND -- Evan Longoria isn't going to let his past ruin Monday night's fun at the State Farm Home Run Derby.
Longoria drew a record nine million votes in the All-Star Final Vote to join fellow Rays Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro at the Midsummer Classic, and he found out Friday that he had been added to the American League squad for the Derby.
At the conclusion of Longoria's first professional season in 2006, he went to the Instructional League and took part in his first home run hitting contest at the Raymond Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg. It wasn't pretty.
"I didn't do so well," Longoria said. "I'm terrible at it."
Now Longoria will get to take his shot at the fences at the cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium.
"So we'll see how it goes in front of 60,000 people," said Longoria, who shrugged his shoulders when asked for a prediction of how he will do. "I don't know how I'll do, I really can't tell you. There's always a chance I might get on a little roll and hit a lot or I might hit zero. I don't want to take a donut. But I'm going to have fun doing it no matter what."
The Derby can be seen live on MLB.com by MLB.TV and All-Star package subscribers, and on ESPN, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
FOX will carry the national live television broadcast of the 79th All-Star Game on Tuesday, with Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD carrying the game in Canada and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, from Yankee Stadium at 8 ET.
Joining Evan Longoria will be the Indians' Grady Sizemore, the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and the Twins' Justin Morneau, who are representing the AL, while the Astros' Lance Berkman, the Brewers' Ryan Braun, the Marlins' Dan Uggla and the Phillies' Chase Utley will go to bat for the National League.
Unlike many of the participants, Longoria doesn't have a "pet" pitcher who knows how to lay them in there just right. So he has a simple plan for figuring out who will pitch to him: "I'll pick somebody based on what I see when I get there."
Yankee Stadium is about as far from symmetrical as possible with a deep left field, a deeper center field and a short right field, which could make for some interesting theater during this year's Derby.
"Yankee Stadium should play pretty fair, I guess," Longoria said. "It will be a little bit biased for the left-handers, though. It's going to be easier for them to hit some out to that short porch."
Longoria, 22, entered Sunday's action batting .278 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs since his April callup, and on Wednesday he won the AL Rookie of the Month Award presented by Gillette for June.
Longoria didn't hesitate to answer when asked for a prediction on who would win the Derby.
"I think Josh Hamilton will win," Longoria said.
The Rays' rookie third baseman then smiled, "But hopefully I can win it."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.