"I would prefer he's not involved in it," the Yankees' hitting coach said before last night's game. "But that's not my decision."
It is Cano's and he made it Tuesday, electing to participate.
Cano, who has a team-best 16 home runs, called the invitation "an honor," but also is aware that the Derby has a tinge of negativity associated with it.
"I'm just going to go out there and have fun," Cano said. "I understand that the most important thing for me is the second half and the team. I'm going to go out there, try to have fun and not mess up my swing."
Which has been part of the event's reputation almost as long as it has existed in its current form. Long cited several examples, including Bobby Abreu, who hit 18 home runs in the first half of 2005, then six the rest of the season after competing in the Derby.
"It takes a lot out of you, it's taxing," Long said. "You see guys come back after the home run hitting contest and it affects their swing. It wears you out. Bobby Abreu did it that one year and I know he struggled after that. Josh Hamilton [in 2008]. Let's just say he gets on a roll and gets going and hits a lot of home runs, it's going to take its toll."
Neither Long nor Girardi, to this point, have tried to talk Cano out of participating.
Alex Rodriguez, a veteran of several derbies, has said in the past that participating might negatively impact a player for up to three weeks after the contest, though he wouldn't say Cano should steer clear.
"I know different guys have different opinions on it," A-Rod said. "I just read today Big Papi doesn't have a problem with it. [He said] it doesn't have a negative effect. I think the way Robby swings the bat, I don't think really anything can affect him right now."
As for Abreu's precipitous fall, Rodriguez didn't necessarily draw a connection between that and the Derby. "Hitting's such a funny thing," Rodriguez said. "You can always point to that or maybe something he did mechanically to affect it. I'm not sure."
Cano said his approach won't be different.
"I'll just go there, have fun and keep doing the things I did in the first half," he said. "I don't want to put it in my mind that if I go there, it's going to mess up my second half."
Mark Teixeira participated in 2005 and has said he lowered his shoulder a bit in trying to drive the ball, but Long's concern isn't mechanical with Cano. It's fatigue.
Though in saying that, Long said the second baseman is physically equipped to handle it.
"This guy's a horse. He plays every day, every inning," Long said. "He might be the one guy I could say he could get through this with flying colors and be OK. But again, it's tough not to go to the history part of it and see what's happened to this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy, and think it wouldn't happen to Cano. But I could see it not affecting him."
Just in case, Long, who will be in Anaheim, smiled and said he might not mind an early-round exit.
"This is going to be the first time I'm not going to root for Cano," he said.