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Orioles notebook: Manny Machado looking forward to Home Run Derby

Neither Orioles third baseman Manny Machado nor manager Buck Showalter believe participating in Monday's Home Run Derby will negatively impact Machado's season, or the swing that has produced a career-high 19 home runs.

"I'm not going try to go out there and blow my back or anything, try to overdo it," Machado said. "I'm just going to try to go out there and put some good swings out there and put on a show.

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"[I'm] just mainly going to try to keep my same swing and try to hit the ball hard somewhere. If they go out, they go out. If they don't, I guess I'm going to be the one with no homers there."

On Wednesday, Machado was named one of eight participants in Monday's event, and will face Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Joc Pederson in the first round of the new head-to-head format. Machado said he doesn't know the new rules for the Derby — he'll worry about it Monday in Cincinnati — but that winning was secondary to the honor of being one of the sluggers chosen.

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"I don't think you've got to go out there and try to win the thing, but just go out there and enjoy yourself," he said.

Showalter isn't concerned about over-exertion or injury.

"You can get hurt walking through the parking lot," he said. "I'm not one of those guys that thinks the Home Run Derby [is bad]. I'm sure you could find something statistically. It's something that Manny's earned, and I don't want to take it away from him. It's great for him and his family, and if something like that's going to happen, then it's not meant to be anyway. We're not very strong mechanically if something like that's getting in the way."

Machado, who missed parts of the last two seasons with knee injuries that limited him to 82 games in 2014, thinks his improved physical strength in his lower half has led to his power surge. He had 33 career home runs entering 2015, and could top that number this year alone.

"Those doubles are finally turning into homers," Machado said. "I've been working hard every day trying to get my legs back to where they need to be. They're not where they need to be, but they're getting there and it's showing. It's showing, finally having a base under myself. It feels good to go out there and be able to do the things that I want to do."

He selected assistant hitting coach Einar Diaz, who Machado said has thrown him batting practice for years, to pitch to him Monday.

Showalter wants Jones to start in center

Showalter hopes center fielder Adam Jones, who was named as a replacement starter for Tuesday's All-Star Game, will get to play the position where he has won three straight American League Gold Glove awards.

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Both of the other starting outfielders — Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels — play center field.

"I'm excited Adam gets to start now," Showalter said. "He's got the Gold Gloves and service time to do it [in center]. Hopefully, that's the way they end up going. That'll be [Royals and American League manager Ned Yost's] decision. He's got a lot of good people to pick from."

MLB announced Thursday that Jones would replace Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, who suffered a groin injury Wednesday night that could keep him out for as long as two months.

Jones said it was "pretty cool" to start for the third straight year, but sent his thoughts to the injured Royal.

"I'm sorry he went down," Jones said. "I wish that he'd stayed healthy. I know it was important that he start. The fans voted him in, and his family was going to go. That's important to the Gordon family. … I wish that he was healthy and able to go."

Around the horn

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Left-hander Wesley Wright, who is rehabilitating a strained left trapezius, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday for Norfolk. His rehab assignment ends Sunday. … Orioles official scorer Jim Henneman, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday. It was his 80th birthday.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/JonMeoli

Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.


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