Pena enjoys thrill of being part of Derby

Pena enjoys thrill of being part of Derby

ST. LOUIS -- Appearing at a news conference on Monday afternoon to promote the State Farm Home Run Derby, Carlos Pena had some fun with the notion of someone's swing being messed up by participating.

"The perfect swing, yes," Pena said with a smile. "Not-so-perfect swings, no. ... I just don't think there's anything to ruin in my swing. I've got enough of a loop in it that it can't get any worse.

"To me, it's all about the fun ... so I'm just going to enjoy myself as much as possible."

Despite bowing out after a three-way swing-off following the first round, Pena appeared to have plenty of fun. Along the way, he raised $10,000 -- donated by State Farm -- for the Scott Air Force Base (Ill.) Boys & Girls Club, which was represented at the news conference and the Derby by Amber Baker.

"Obviously, this is a great cause," Pena said.

Added to the American League All-Star team on Sunday as a replacement for Boston's Dustin Pedroia, Pena, who leads the AL with 24 home runs, hit five home runs in the first round, leaving him in a fourth-place tie with local god Albert Pujols and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.

The swing-off -- five swings each -- saw Pena go deep, then Mauer go homerless, followed by Pujols, who rewarded the red-clad fans' chants by quickly ending the suspense.

Pena blasted consecutive tape-measure shots after coming up empty on his first hack.

"Albert is a very special player," Pena said, "and special players do special things."

It was a special night for Pena, too, though. Openly and unabashedly thrilled with being added to the AL All-Star squad, he jumped at the chance to compete against a collection of his slugging peers.

"This is little-kid stuff, man," Pena said. "My cheeks are going to be so sore after all of this smiling."

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.