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Hanley confirms participation in Derby

Hanley confirms participation in Derby

PHOENIX -- Swinging for the fences won't mess up Hanley Ramirez.

At least that is the opinion of the Marlins shortstop, who confirmed on Friday that indeed he would compete in Monday's Home Run Derby.

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Ramirez had been having second thoughts since telling the league that he would compete in the annual event. On Thursday, MLB announced Ramirez would take part. But before the Marlins faced the D-backs at Chase Field, the three-time All-Star was reconsidering.

The reason for backtracking is Ramirez is hoping the Marlins pick things up in the second half. For them to get back into the race, the team needs their 26-year-old All-Star to raise his game. A concern for competitors in the Derby is it might throw their swings off.

Asked to assess his first half, the shortstop said: "For me? Terrible."

After winning the National League batting title with a .342 average last year, he entered Friday hitting .292 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs. The Marlins were 10 games behind the Braves in the NL East.

"Thank goodness we've got the second half coming," Ramirez said. "It's just the average. I don't like to be a .200 hitter. That's not me."

When he says a .200 hitter, he means any number under the .300 mark.

Now that he's in it, he wants to win it.

"Me. I'm going to win," he said with a smile.

Ramirez joked with reporters that if he slumps in the second half to not blame the Home Run Derby. Since 2006, his rookie season, Ramirez leads all Major League shortstops in home runs with 115. He has 116 career homers, with one as a pinch-hitter.

The other NL players committed to the Home Run Derby are Corey Hart of the Brewers and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, Boston's David Ortiz and Toronto's Vernon Wells are representing the American League.

A former teammate of Cabrera, Ramirez noted that he would like to be in the finals with the Tigers slugger.

Ramirez says he doesn't know who will pitch to him at the Derby.

"Maybe JJ," he joked, meaning his hard-throwing teammate Josh Johnson. "Or maybe someone from the Phillies. They will have their whole staff there."

Ramirez knows the importance of the Marlins turning their season around in the upcoming weeks. If they fall out of the race, the club may make trades.

"Where are we going to be in August, September? Where are we going to be, 20 games out? We don't want to be. We want to be in the race," Ramirez said. "That's why they need me right now.

"Cody, he's blaming it on me if he gets traded, because we're not winning. I need to go to Home Depot and buy a rake."

Joe Frisaro 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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