MINNEAPOLIS -- Let's get this out of the way right now: Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau might not have a spectacular second half in the power department, but you're kidding yourself if you think it's because his swing "got all out of whack" at Monday night's Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis. Yes, there have been occasions when players performed like Derby champs -- Bobby Abreu in 2005, Morneau himself in 2008 -- and then had miserable second halves, but presuming that was caused by a mid-July exhibition performance is a stretch. The players know it, even the ones who opted out for various reasons.
I asked several players at Monday's media sessions what they thought of the impossible-to-prove theory that participating in the Home Run Derby creates bad habits and ruins a swing, and got pretty much snickers in return. Colleague Jayson Stark says when he asked Giancarlo Stanton this question, the powerful Miami Marlins slugger looked at him like he was nuts.
That's how Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano acted with me Monday. I asked Cano, who participated in the past three Derby competitions and certainly didn't struggle after those All-Star breaks, if the Derby messes up a swing, and he flatly replied, "No. It didn't happen to me." Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, making his surprise debut in the event, also made his response rather clear: "Personally, I do not feel it messes with anything. Each and every day we have a couple rounds of batting practice, and that's all we're trying to do, hit home runs. It's not a new thing."
It should be noted that we're past the halfway point of the season, so doubling anyone's home run total is a risky proposition to begin with.