HR Derby mechanics not a concern for Mallee

Cubs hitting coach only worried about injuries for Rizzo and Bryant

HR Derby mechanics not a concern for Mallee

CHICAGO -- Cubs hitting coach John Mallee will be watching Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant closely on Monday, even though he'll be viewing on television. Mallee has a vested interest in the pair.

Rizzo and Bryant will take part in the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, the first Cubs pair to participate in the event.

"They know what they need to do," Mallee said Sunday. "Rizzo has such control of his swing. He can hit the ball on the ground, he can hit in the air, wherever he wants, basically.

"A lot of times, people worrry about swing mechancis changing," Mallee said. "I'm worried more about injury than swing mechanics. Trying to swing so hard, they over-rotate. That's the only concern I have."

Rizzo and Bryant practiced on Friday so they could get used to taking batting practice without having a cage around them. Mallee doesn't want either trying to set distance records at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

"If [Bryant] just gets it and squares the ball up and stays true like he's capable of with a controlled swing, in that ballpark if the wind's favorable -- if he gets it up in the air, it'll go," Mallee said. "He doesn't have to try to hit it over the boat in center field."

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Bryant struck out three times on Saturday against White Sox ace Chris Sale, and manager Joe Maddon said the rookie doesn't look tired, just disappointed when he doesn't meet his expectations.

"It's something new for him to be under this kind of microscope," Maddon said. "All of a sudden, he's an All-star. Does he look tired? I think he looks upset with himself, because he expects more."

Maddon expects Bryant to have some hard times.

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"I'm very much aware that that's going to happen, that he's going to have his hard times and it's going to be difficult, that he's going to look like a first-year player on occasion because that's what he is," Maddon said.

Bryant won't get a break as he takes part in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile.

"That is the downside," Maddon said. "The upside is to be involved and to understand, 'I'm one of the best, and I've been asked to come to this thing because I'm one of the best baseball players in the world.' There's that elevated confidence that can be derived from that, too."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.