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Cabrera not taking Home Run Derby lightly

Cabrera not taking Home Run Derby lightly

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera wasn't exactly calling his shot on Tuesday when he confirmed his spot in next week's State Farm Home Run Derby, but he made it clear that he isn't just doing his part for All-Star festivities.

"I want to win," Cabrera said.

Both Cabrera and Major League Baseball confirmed his place in the Derby alongside Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Vernon Wells, Corey Hart and Matt Holliday in this year's event.

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And when he takes his place in the batters' box on Monday, in front of a packed crowd at Angel Stadium, he'll be seriously competing.

Cabrera took part in the 2006 Derby at Pittsburgh's PNC Park and finished third, trailing Ryan Howard. He was hoping to return to the festivities the next year at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but injury concerns kept him out.

Cabrera was intrigued by the idea of taking his hacks this year before he even knew he would be on the All-Star team, but he also had to check on his health. A kidney infection sidelined him for a game last weekend and left him seriously ill before Sunday's game. Cabrera said he's feeling better now and expects to be fine by the time he heads out west. That's very good news for those who hope to see him put on a show in Anaheim.

"Should be a good time," Cabrera said.

With 20 home runs entering Tuesday, Cabrera has the highest total of anybody currently committed to this year's Derby. But it's more than his total that makes him a dangerous hitter in a setting such as this. His ability to hit opposite-field home runs with authority rivals that of anybody in the game today.

Cabrera regularly puts on a display in batting practice, especially on the road in parks with outfield upper decks. He hit the upper decks in left and right fields at the new Target Field in Minneapolis last week, and he was blistering balls at Citi Field in New York earlier on during that trip.

Cabrera is upbeat about his ability to hit at Angel Stadium, especially since the Derby will take place in late afternoon rather than during the evening. But he said he can't approach the Derby like it's another round of batting practice, not just because of the setting, but the intensity of the swing.

"You have to approach it differently," Cabrera said. "You have to approach it like a game."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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