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Bautista completing due diligence as HRD captain

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TORONTO -- Jose Bautista is taking his role as captain of the American League for the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby in Minnesota very seriously.

Bautista is expected to finalize his team relatively soon, but before that can happen he's doing his due diligence. There are conversations to be had with players from across the league as he gauges overall interest in the annual event.

"Behind the scenes, using the Players Association, I'm reaching out to some guys and seeing what level of interest there is," said Bautista, who is currently day to day with a mild hamstring strain. "I don't want to pick guys that don't want to do it and I don't want to force guys into doing it, if they don't really feel like it, if they're uncomfortable or they have some health issues.

"I want to win this, so I'm not going to pick anybody who is going to be reserved in any way when they go and pick up a bat."

One person who definitely won't be joining Bautista on the AL team is Edwin Encarnacion, who is still hopeful of becoming an All-Star, but has declined to participate in the Derby. Bautista said he plans to talk with White Sox slugger Jose Abreu during their current four-game series.

Other players have been in touch through text messages to volunteer and while there's a fan voting aspect to the event, Bautista said he has final say on who makes the team. Even though this will be the third time in four years that Bautista is taking part in the event, he didn't hesitate to once again sign on.

"It's a great time to celebrate what you're doing," said Bautista, who leads all Major Leagues in fan voting. "To meet some of the opponents as teammates, friends and people and not just I want to [beat you] every day on the field. You get to be around the best players in a different setting, a different environment.

"When the season's over and everybody goes their own way, it's hard to get everybody together. This would be the only time. There's a lot of stuff that goes on, it's cool for the fans as well. They deserve having us together and enjoying the festivities. It's part of the job."

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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