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Derby an 'honor' for Angels' Guerrero

Derby an 'honor' for Angels' Guerrero

NEW YORK -- Vladimir Guerrero will be taking his cuts in the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday in San Francisco's AT&T Park, and he'll be doing it for the fans who made him an All-Star starter and the third-highest vote-getter in the balloting behind Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

"That's a big honor, to have that many people vote for you," Guerrero said, adding that the debt he feels to those 3 million fans is the reason he chose to participate in the popular long ball contest.

"I think it will be better the second time," the Angels right fielder said. "I'll try to do better than last time."

Representing Montreal, Guerrero was bounced in the first round of the 2000 Home Run Derby in Atlanta, leaving Turner Field's vast dimensions only twice.

Guerrero will be taking Angels third-base coach Dino Ebel to San Francisco as his pitcher. Ebel throws regularly to Guerrero in batting practice and knows Vlad's swing. Ebel also has experience in home run derbies, having thrown during a Class A All-Star Game when he managed San Bernardino in the California League.

"I know where Vlad's sweet spot is," Ebel said. "I'll try to be consistent with four-seam fastballs out over the plate, so he can get extended. We don't want to rush it. We want to take our time and settle into a nice groove with it.

"I'm really excited about this. Vlad's got a good plan in batting practice; he really hits well in BP. Just being there is great, but you want to go and try to win this thing."

Guerrero's home run numbers are slightly down this season. He had 14 going into Saturday's assignment against the Yankees' Roger Clemens, having averaged 36.2 in nine full seasons before 2007, with a high of 44 in 2000.

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"I always watch it," Guerrero said of the competition. "I have some friends who have done it. I hope I have a good time with it. The fans want me in it, so I'm doing it."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he'll be keeping an eye on his slugger while he's tending to a barbecue at home during the break.

"I'm sure he'll have it in perspective and keep his swing where it is," Scioscia said.

Lyle Spencer 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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