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Gonzalez elects to make Derby debut

Gonzalez elects to make Derby debut

PHOENIX -- The Padres' Adrian Gonzalez will join Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Prince Fielder of the Brewers in the State Farm Home Run Derby at Busch Stadium on July 13, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

The quartet of first basemen will make up the Derby squad for the National League next Monday in St. Louis. All four players are also members of the NL team, which will try and snap a 12-game winless streak against its American League counterpart July 14.

It's the first derby of any kind as a professional player for Gonzalez, who has 24 homers and entered play Monday night tied for second in the NL with Mark Reynolds of the D-backs. Pujols, the leading All-Star vote-getter, led the Senior Circuit with 31 homers entering Monday.

"It's exciting, and it's going to be fun," Gonzalez said prior to Monday night's tilt against the D-backs at Chase Field. "There's always some fear of not hitting any home runs, although I wouldn't be the first or the last to do that. But, hopefully, I can get into a good streak and hit a few of them."

It's the first time a Padre will compete in the Home Run Derby since Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff participated in 1992, when the All-Star Game was played that season in San Diego. Gonzalez is only the third member of the Padres to be invited to the event.

Pujols, playing in his home stadium, will certainly be the centerpiece. He leads the Major Leagues in homers and recently became the seventh player in history to reach 30 home runs before July 1, as well as the third-youngest player in history to total 350 career homers

Howard is a former two-time NL home run champion (58 in 2006 and 48 in '08) and has 20 this season. Fielder led the NL with 50 homers in '07 and has 22 already this season.

For Gonzalez, that's some pretty heady company.

"That's going to be an event," Gonzalez said. "I'm not sure this is something that you really want to do, but it's certainly going to be cool to do it."

Asked if he was willing to make any predictions, Gonzalez said: "Of course not."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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