NEW YORK -- It is not unusual for players invited to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby to decline, citing concerns about swinging for the fences sabotaging their regular swings.
They are afraid of falling into the type of swing which Reggie Jackson brought to the plate every time, the kind of wide-arcing uppercut which turned each of the Hall of Fame outfielder's at-bats into an adventure.
Asked during Monday afternoon's All-Star workout whether he would like to have participated in one of these modern Derby productions, Jackson didn't hesitate.
"Heck, yes, I would've loved it. I always swung for the downs anyway," said the once-and-forever Mr. October, who smoked 563 career home runs plus 18 in the postseason, including 10 World Series clouts. "I think I might've had a chance."
Now a special consultant in the Yankees' front office, Jackson had a ready response when asked to predict the winner of the Home Run Derby that would soon start.
"[Chase] Utley!" Jackson said enthusiastically. "I like Chase Utley. He's a great athlete with a great swing. I think he's being overlooked in this, and I like his chances of sneaking in. He's a solid home run hitter."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.