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Swisher excited to add name to Derby field

Swisher excited to add name to Derby field

SEATTLE -- Nick Swisher couldn't believe what he was hearing.

When Major League Baseball invited him to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby, the Yankees slugger couldn't say no.

Swisher confirmed that he will be aiming for the fences on Monday at Angel Stadium, trying to go deep as one of the four competitors representing the American League.

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"I used to do this in the backyard when I was 6 years old, and now I get to actually do it on the big stage," Swisher said.

Swisher -- who has hit 14 homers this year for New York -- completes an AL field that also includes Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays.

The National League will be represented by Corey Hart of the Brewers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals, Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins and Chris Young of the D-backs.

"I have to do it like I do everything -- just live in the moment," Swisher said. "Why not just have a blast with it? It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm nervous already, but I'm going to go out and have an absolute blast. I'm going to soak up that moment."

The switch-hitting Swisher said that he will hit left-handed in the event, and he will have Yankees bench coach Tony Pena throwing to him. Swisher's first inclination was to ask his father, Steve -- a 1976 All-Star with the Cubs -- but the elder Swisher declined.

"He hasn't thrown BP for a little while now, and he said, 'Man, that'd be a little much,'" Swisher said. "He was my first choice, but I have Tony, who's been my BP [pitcher] all year."

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano had been one of the first six big league players to commit to the Home Run Derby, but he pulled out this week when the Bombers had concerns about a minor back injury that Cano has been receiving treatment on.

Swisher said he consulted with manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman and hitting coach Kevin Long after being invited, and all three offered a green light for Swisher to participate.

"I said, 'Go ahead,'" Girardi said. "Have fun with it, and if you want to do it, go ahead and do it. Enjoy yourself and the thing is, you don't want him to put too much pressure on himself.

" ... Robbie had that little bit of a back issue, and that scared us, but Swish is as healthy as can be. He's gotten a lot of DH days lately, so the concern is not really there."

Long had expressed concern that a lengthy run in the Derby could have a fatiguing effect on Cano for the second half of the season, and he said that there were "absolutely" the same worries about Swisher.

But Long said that Swisher promised him he would not alter his swing to pull the ball more or get more lift in his cuts, and although Long seemed somewhat skeptical, he understands why Swisher wants to get in the box.

"This could be a once-in-a-lifetime shot at it," Long said. "He's weighed out his pros and cons, and feels like this is the way to go. I'm going to support him and I'll be right there rooting for him."

Swisher told Long that he will be back in the batting cages on Tuesday, ironing out any impact the Derby might have had on his swing.

"It seems like everything he's touched has been gold, so maybe he'll win this thing," Long said.

Swisher said he didn't want to think that far ahead. His only hope is that he doesn't wind up with a goose egg next to his name by the end of the competition -- not with so many Yankees teammates cheering him on from the infield grass.

"Whether I go out and I hit 20 home runs or I hit one home run, I'm going to do it for the experience," Swisher said. "I think it's going to be a blast. I've got to hit one. I can't come back to this locker room otherwise."

Bryan Hoch 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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