Giambi set to defend his All-Star home run championship

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2003

CHICAGO Jason Giambi will try to defend his title in the All-Star home run derby against Carlos Delgado and Albert Pujols in a competition that for now is missing some of baseball's top sluggers.

Barry Bonds, who hit his major league-leading 30th home run Saturday, has said he will not take part.

Chicago's two hometown homer favorites Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas did not make the roster for Tuesday night's All-Star game at U.S. Cellular Field. Boston bopper Manny Ramirez was voted to start, but pulled out Saturday because of a sore left hamstring and was replaced by Magglio Ordonez of the White Sox.

Six stars are locked in for the 10-player event Monday night. Delgado, leading the AL with 28 home runs, will be joined by Giambi, Bret Boone and Garret Anderson from the AL. Giambi hit his 25th homer Saturday for the New York Yankees.

Pujols and St. Louis teammate Jim Edmonds are the only NL players who have committed to taking part.

Earlier this week, when asked why he won't participate in the derby, Bonds said, ''Because I'm a grown man and I don't have to do it.''

''Did Michael Jordan play in the slamfest every year?'' the San Francisco star said. ''Nobody asked him why. I'm 30-something years old. They didn't even ask me. Go ahead and get mad at me. Say what you want, but no.''

Some players decline to take part because they say aiming for the fences, even for a brief time, throws their swings out of whack. But stars have been known to change their minds, especially when fans put on the pressure.

Ken Griffey Jr. won the 1998 event at Coors Field after insisting an hour before the event that he would not compete. Griffey was booed earlier in the day while accepting a trophy as the top vote-getter in fan balloting for All-Star starters.

Sosa hit his 18th home run Saturday in the Chicago Cubs' 7-3 win over Atlanta at Wrigley Field. He has hit 12 homers since coming back June 18 from a seven-game suspension for using a corked bat.

Sosa said he does not plan to watch the All-Star game. But asked whether he would watch the home run derby he won it in 2000 and finished second the next two years he brightened and said, ''Maybe.''

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