Maddon leaving Derby decision up to Bryant

Rookie All-Star intrigued by possibility of taking part in Monday's event

Maddon leaving Derby decision up to Bryant

CHICAGO -- Third baseman Kris Bryant, named to the National League All-Star team as a reserve on Monday, said he'd like to participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon would prefer the rookie skip the event.

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Bryant and teammate Anthony Rizzo will take part in the July 14 Midsummer Classic at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The players for next Monday's Home Run Derby have not yet been named, but Bryant did indicate he'd like to take part.

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"Homers are fun," Bryant said.

"Obviously, it's turned into a spectacle, and I get all that," Maddon said on Tuesday. "I would be concerned about a guy who has something going on [in terms of injuries], that he doesn't aggravate anything.

"You'd probably always prefer that they don't [participate]," Maddon said. "I'm not going to tell them not to. They're big boys."

Bryant is the first rookie third baseman to represent the Cubs in the All-Star Game and the club's first rookie at any position since Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome were named to the 2008 team.

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"The overall body of work has been spectacular for a first-year guy," Maddon said of Bryant. "All of the adjustments he's making here, how hard he's been pitched based on our lineup and how it sets up, learning a new position and doing it so well -- he's done a lot of really good things this year. We're all really proud of him."

• Tuesday's Game 1 starter for the Cubs, Jake Arrieta, was not included among the NL pitchers selected for next week's All-Star Game. Did Maddon feel the right-hander was deserving of a spot?

"A lot of guys were," Maddon said. "In that moment of having to make those choices, there's so many tough ones to make. It's so difficult. At the end of the day, everybody is going to feel that way. Of course, Jake is worthy, but [Clayton] Kershaw is worthy, too, and [Johnny] Cueto is worthy, too. It's hard to make an argument when you see those other names not there."

• Right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano, who signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs in June, made his first appearance in the organization on Monday, striking out three and giving up one hit for Double-A Tennessee. Maddon got a good report on Soriano, who pitched for the manager as a member of the Rays.

"He knows how to pitch," Maddon said.

• The Cubs entered Tuesday 44-37 through 81 games and a contender for an NL Wild Card spot; a year ago, they were 35-46 at the halfway point and 14 1/2 games back in the NL Central.

"It feels right," Maddon said. "It feels like we haven't hit our stride yet. I feel like we've been battling each and every day, which I love. We really haven't played as good as we're capable of, and I like that. ... I think there's a lot to look forward to."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.