Home Run Derby not high priority for Abreu

Home Run Derby not high priority for Abreu

CHICAGO -- The more Jose Abreu is asked about his possible participation in the Gillette Home Run Derby as part of All-Star festivities on July 14 at Target Field, the less he seems to want to talk about the matter.

Abreu entered Monday tied for the Major League lead at 25 homers with Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays and Nelson Cruz of the Orioles but has expressed a desire to skip the competition if possible.

He spoke with American League Derby captain Jose Bautista in Toronto and was asked if his thoughts had changed upon the team's return to Chicago on Monday. Even through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz, Abreu indicated there were more pressing issues on his mind.

"To be honest with you, that's not what I'm thinking about right now," Abreu said. "I'm more concentrated on helping the team. I'm not really interested in the Home Run Derby. Things change. We might see, but right now that's not something that's in the top of my priorities.

"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."

The slugging first baseman certainly would be an entertaining contestant, standing as the only player in Major League history to reach 25 homers in his first 69 games. But the White Sox certainly are happy and not surprised by his team-first approach.

"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. That's his first thought," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Since he arrived here, he's always been talking about the team and just trying to win games and wants whatever is best.

"For him, even going in the home run contest, he could do it. If he feels like he could do it and still come back and have the same swing and feeling he has right now, he'll probably do it."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.