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Curse-buster: Corey Seager has no fear of Home Run Derby

LOS ANGELES -- Corey Seager’s thoughts on haunted houses and UFO sightings remain unknown. He was revealing, though, on his opinion of the Home Run Derby Curse.

“I don't see it,” said Seager, one of baseball’s brightest young stars, who got the invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby on Monday at San Diego in advance of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

The impressive shortstop and No. 2 hitter for the Dodgers was a slam dunk for All-Star consideration. He won’t start for the National League -- that popularity contest was won by Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs -- but Seager’s production was worthy of the players’ vote to join the squad.

Heading into play Thursday, Seager led all National League shortstops in hits (102), was second in slugging percentage (.537) and OPS (.900), and ranked third with 17 home runs.

He will be just the seventh rookie to compete in the long-ball event after Wally Joyner and Jose Canseco in 1986, Mark McGwire (1987), Mike Piazza (1993) and Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson last year.

“It's one of those things that, it's going to be fun for a day, but you're not going to try to do it for the rest of the year,” Seager insisted. “It's one of those things that I'm not going to try to swing straight uphill. That's not what's going to happen. It's just going to be fun. It's going to be exciting.”

Yet Pederson did struggle after nearly winning the Home Run Derby last year. He hit just six home runs the remainder of the season. And the guy who won last year’s Home Run Derby? Todd Frazier also had power issues in the second half.

So do the Dodgers really want Seager to be doing this? Maybe manager Dave Roberts will admit that it is far from a good idea.

“I’m not going to admit that,” Roberts said. “I think that if Corey wants to be in the Home Run Derby, we’re going to wish him well. You look at what happened to Joc and Todd Frazier … I don’t know, the guys that have been in the Home Run Derby and have come out of it just fine and continued their second half just fine. I don’t know. I’m not going to say that those are outliers, but I don’t know. Of all the guys that participate, how they fare, I don’t know those numbers.”

Seager shares a residence with Pederson. So what did his roommate say about the experience?

“Yeah, he said it was fun, just to enjoy it, don't worry about getting tired, all that other stuff,” Seager said. “Just have fun. We talked a little about bats he swung. Other than that, he said just to enjoy it.”

So instead of a conversation on why Seager might not want to participate, Pederson offered tips on how to win the thing. It won’t be an easy task for Seager, who is a No. 8 seed in the eight-man field. He said that per Pederson’s advice, he ordered some bats longer and lighter than the ones he swings in games.

Another way Seager is making the event as comfortable as possible is to fly in his father from North Carolina to have a familiar face pitching to him.

“That kind of put it over the top for me,” Seager said. “It's one of those things where it'd be fun to do, but with him being there, it's just that much more exciting.”

And when the second half resumes, Seager is confident his hit-to-all-fields swing will be intact.

“Tomorrow my swing could suck. It's a daily grind every day to make your swing as good as possible,” Seager said. “It's not too concerning.”

Perhaps more concerning is that Seager will be in a home-run-hitting contest when he doesn’t even consider himself to be a home-run hitter.

“Not really,’ he said. “I've had some success early right now. It'll be exciting and fun, and I am looking forward to it. I'm just going to try to enjoy it.”