New York Mets’ Pete Alonso to defend Home Run Derby title, but Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sitting out to stay fresh
New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso will defend his Home Run Derby title in Colorado on July 12, but Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who fell short by one home run in 2019, said Wednesday that he is sitting out the event.
Guerrero, who is tied for the major league lead with 23 home runs, told reporters he wanted to “take care of myself physically and mentally” in order to stay fresh for the second half of the season.
“I feel good physically,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Everything is going well. There is a long way to go still. I just want to keep it that way.”
Alonso won the Home Run Derby the last time it was held, in 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Alonso edged Guerrero by a score of 23-22 in the final round to capture the Derby title.
There was no Derby last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alonso, 26, has 11 home runs this season, but he has three career homers in six games at Coors Field in Denver.
“I had so much fun during the first one, so I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s do it again,'” he told reporters Wednesday. “I just had a blast. It’s a really special moment, and as long as I have an opportunity to do it, I want to do it. Because it’s something I always dreamt about as a kid. … It was a dream come true.”
Alonso had his cousin, Derek Morgan, throw him pitches in the 2019 derby but will instead have Mets bench coach Dave Jauss as his pitcher this year, he said.
The first baseman will be joined by Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, who shares the MLB lead of 23 homers this season with Guerrero.
Alonso said Wednesday that Ohtani has “stupid juice.”
“He can hit it over the wall at pretty much any yard, so it will be fun,” he told reporters.
Vlad Jr. said he decided to skip this year’s event after consulting with his father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.
The younger Guerrero said he’ll be at the Derby as a spectator.
“I’m planning to take my camera with the mic on to record everything, and enjoy the moment and support the rest of the guys,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.