“If he chooses me, I absolutely welcome it,” Puig told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter, “but it doesn’t matter to me whether I play or not.”
Puig, the Dodgers’ star, leads NL outfielders in voting for the July 15 All-Star Game. The home-run derby takes place the night before the All-Star Game.
Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics, Puig’s Cuban countryman, won the derby last year. After he won, he said he believed he could beat Puig if the two competed, since Cespedes is more of a home-run hitter and Puig more of a line-drive hitter.
“This is not the type of competition he would be able to excel at,” Cespedes said then. “He’s not really a home-run hitter, so I believe I would win.”
When Puig heard those comments Tuesday, he smiled.
“Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “That’s his opinion. It doesn’t bother me. Where you need to hit home runs is in an actual game, not in the derby.”
Puig is batting .311 this season, with 11 home runs and a .922 OPS. Cespedes is batting .269, with 14 home runs and an .828 OPS.
Cespedes has averaged one home run per 5.3 games in the major leagues, Puig one per 5.9 games.