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Berkman wants Lee in HR Derby

Berkman wants Lee in HR Derby

HOUSTON --It seems Lance Berkman may not be the only Astro to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 14 in New York City.

The Astros first baseman wants his teammates to join him, so much so that he has offered a challenge to left fielder Carlos Lee.

He told Lee that if Lee was nominated to the All-Star team, he would be asked to hit in the contest.

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"He said no initially, and I called him out," Berkman said. "I was like, 'Let's go. I'll challenge you.' He would be great in the Derby and probably would win it."

Lee, it seems, agrees with that assessment. When Berkman told him he would even bat right-handed to make it more fair, Lee told him to "bring it on."

"You know if I make it you've got no chance," Lee yelled across the clubhouse before Wednesday's game.

But Lee said he was hesitant to participate in the Derby, even though he admitted it would be a fun experience.

"The type of season [Berkman] is having, I don't want to screw him up if he doesn't do well," Lee teased. "I want to make sure he stays in a good place. I don't want to overshadow him hitting all those bombs. He got a taste of it in hitting practice -- he knows."

Another of Berkman's teammates, Miguel Tejada, has participated with Berkman in the contest before, beating the Big Puma in 2004 as a Baltimore Oriole.

Tejada, in second place in the National League All-Star ballot for shortstop, said he would have to know he made the team before he would decide to hit.

Berkman said the Home Run Derby is one of the top 10 best things he's done in his baseball career, and he is excited for the opportunity to showcase his hitting skills again.

"If you do good in it, it's great. This is going to be a very special All-Star Game in a lot of ways, because it's involving Yankee Stadium. If you hit one out there you've really clubbed it. I'm sure they're going to go all out. Those guys always do a real good job of putting on a game and taking care of the players over there."

He added: "This year so far has been good for me. I felt pretty consistent and felt like my mechanics have been where they need to be, and I've maintained good concentration. Everything has come together well for me in the first three months."

Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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