ANDRUW JONES will don a Braves cap when he takes the field at Comerica Park in Detroit for next Tuesday's All-Star Game, but the night before that the native of Cura√ßao, part of the Netherlands Antilles, will be swinging for the Dutch. In its effort to globalize the game, Major League Baseball announced last Friday that the 2005 Home Run Derby will be international in nature: Instead of pitting four players from each league against one another, competitors from eight nations will represent their homelands. "It should be fun, and it's going to be exciting for baseball," says Jones. "I've played for Cura√ßao in select tournaments, but I never had a chance to play for Holland in any big cups or anything. A lot of people don't know Cura√ßao is part of Holland. It's good exposure for the island, and for Holland too."
Though the participants were to be officially announced this week, Jones and Pirates leftfielder Jason Bay, who's from British Columbia, have already accepted invitations from the commissioner's office. Reigning Home Run Derby champ Miguel Tejada of the Orioles and the Dominican Republic says Red Sox slugger David Ortiz should take his place as his country's representative. "David Ortiz is our home run king in the Dominican," Tejada said.
The new format is meant to promote March's inaugural World Baseball Classic, in which many of baseball's best players will represent their home countries on 16 national teams. The four-round tournament will be staged at locales in the U.S., Latin America and Asia. --Albert Chen
CHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS (TOP)
¬†Bay (above) and Jones will represent their homelands in the derby.
C/O SPORTSCHROME USA/ROB TRINGALI JR.
¬†[See caption above]