Home Run Derby participants line up for 2009

Albert Pujols is unlikely to miss his home town Home Run Derby in St Louis on July 14, but 2008 winner Josh Hamilton will not be there and other participants are showing their thumbs up or down as the big night approaches.

Hamilton of the Texas Rangers broke the home run record at the Derby last year with 28 homers, and although he was eventually beaten in the final by the Minnesota Twins’s Justin Morneau, he would have been a massive drawcard, but MLB.com reports he will not recovers from surgery on a torn abdominal muscle in time.

Pujols’ public comments on his Derby participation, which is determined by fan vote but can be refused by players who need a rest, especially if they are playing in the All-Star game the next day, were non-committal. Pujols won the National League fan vote, as he did for the All-Star team.

Also pouring cold water on their chances to front up on the night were Morneau, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Victor Martinez of the Cleveland Indians, Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins and Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees. American League fan vote winner Evan Longoria has also made comments about not wanting to hit.

Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, who came second to Pujols in the NL fan vote, was one of a number of players who confirmed their participation, although official invitations have yet to be confirmed. Russell Branyan of the Seattle Mariners, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays, Brandon Inge of the Detroit Tigers, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, Joe Mauer of the Twins, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, and Houston Astros team mates Hunter Pence and Miguel Tejada all expressed interest if asked.

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