Won the All-Star Home Run Derby
A 25-year-old slugger from Tuscon, Arizona, Shelly Duncan is hitting .262 with a league-leading 24 home runs for the Double-A Trenton Thunder. We caught up with Duncan for a Q&A session prior to the 2005 Eastern League All-Star Game, at Portland's Hadlock Field, where he won the pre-game Home Run Derby.
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Duncan followed his Derby win with a home run in the game, as his Northern Division team -- which included Trenton teammates Matt DeSalvo, Justin Pope and Omir Santos -- defeated the South, 9-6.
PinstripesPlus: Do you consider yourself a power hitter, or do you prefer to be looked at as a good hitter who will supply some power?
Shelly Duncan I do consider myself a power hitter. Everyone has a role, and mine is to drive in runs. For me, that includes hitting the long ball.
PinstripesPlus: You just won the Home Run Derby. What approach did you take in doing so?
Duncan: I've been in them before, and they're fun. Physically, you're just up there taking hacks. Mentally, you need to stay focused, because it's not game-action and it can be harder to get locked in.
PinstripesPlus: Portland is a Red Sox affiliate, so you heard a few boos when you were announced as being with the Trenton Yankees. What were your thoughts on that?
Duncan: It was all in good fun, and getting a few bruises for being a Yankee is something you learn to expect, so I didn't mind. Plus, growing up with the name Shelley, I kind of got used to some ribbing early on (smiles).
PinstripesPlus: The ballpark here has a 37-foot Green Monster replica in left field. Did that affect your approach?
Duncan: It made it more fun, but I've learned to never let the ballpark I'm in affect my approach or my swing. That can only lead to trouble.
PinstripesPlus: You showed some opposite field power in the Derby, hitting balls out to right field. Do you ever think about the short porch in Yankee Stadium when you drive balls the other way?
Duncan: Nope. That's never crossed my mind (smiles).
PinstripesPlus: Tell us a little about your power to right and center field.
Duncan: When I'm going well, my approach is up the middle. I try to drive it to center, and whatever happens, happens. When I'm not going well, sometimes I'll get a little pull happy and try to do too much. I'll try to use my body more than my hands, and top-spin balls instead staying back and driving them.
PinstripesPlus: Do you go to the plate looking for certain pitches, or are you more of a see the ball, hit the ball guy?
Duncan: It depends on the pitcher, but I mostly try to stick in a certain zone. It usually doesn't matter what the pitch is. If it's in the zone where I'm looking, I'll let it fly.
PinstripesPlus: Last one: What parts of your offensive game to you need to improve to make it to New York?
Duncan: I'm always striving to get better, and there are a lot of things I can improve on. One is that I want to control the outer half of the plate better. It's more of a zone thing, where teams pitch me in and I need to follow the adjustments when they go outside. I'm trying to recognize and adjust better when they do.
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