- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Any decision Jose Abreu makes on participating in this year’s Home Run Derby likely will come at the last minute.
The Chicago White Sox's rookie slugger is a desired commodity for the July 14 All-Star week event in Minneapolis, but he seems to be growing tired of the topic after discussing it this past weekend at Toronto.
“After the conversation we had [with Bautista], to be honest with you that’s not what I’m thinking about right now,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I’m more concentrated on helping the team right now. I’m not really interested on the Home Run Derby. Things change. We might see, but right now that’s not something that’s in the top of my priorities.”
One concern that Abreu expressed to reporters this past weekend is that the event could alter his swing. Some participants have experienced a power drought after competing in the long-ball contest. Asked about that element Monday, though, Abreu seemed irritated.
“It’s just that I’m not thinking about it right now,” said Abreu, who participated in similar contests in Cuba and wasn't enamored with them. “It’s not a priority.”
The rookie phenom, who entered play Monday night tied for the major league lead in home runs with 25, has always expressed a team-first mentality since signing with the White Sox this past winter and that has not changed, even in the face of a fan-friendly event that could increase his national profile.
“That’s a mature way to think about it for a guy who is going through his first time of everybody wanting him to do this, wanting him to do that,” manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s his first thought. It’s been that way since he got here. Since he arrived here, he’s always been talking about the team and just trying to win games and wants whatever is best.”
Ventura likened the event to a completely different sport.
“It’s like playing in a scramble golf tournament for a guy that hits it a long way,” Ventura said. “Sometimes some people like doing that and they feel like it won’t mess with their game. And some people will play in a scramble and it will screw them up for a long time. He’s mature enough to decide that on his own.”
Abreu feels there will be plenty of time to make his decision, and while many of the negatives have been pointed out, he won’t say that he has ruled out participating.
“Right now it’s simple,” Abreu said. “It’s just I’m not thinking about that. We’ve still got 10, 15 days until the All-Star Game and all that, and that’s just not a priority right now. I’m thinking about how I can help so we can get in a better position right now as a team. That’s really the importance and the priority right now.”