Duty calls: Captains announce Derby teams
Former winners Fielder, Cano power AL; Wright tabs Harper for NL squad
On June 30, the commentary crew on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball marveled over the beauty of Orioles slugger Chris Davis' home run swing.
It looked like Davis had barely made contact. The ball zipped straight out of the park.
Watching Davis hit home runs has been one of the more exciting happenings of the season's first half. And after he was selected to participate in the annual Chevrolet Home Run Derby next Monday at Citi Field (8 p.m. ET on ESPN), there could be a whole lot more to watch.
Derby captains Robinson Cano (American League) and David Wright (National League) announced their selections this week, and Davis rounded out a strong AL field that includes Cano, Prince Fielder and Yoenis Cespedes.
After the initial groups were announced on Monday, Cespedes was added Tuesday to round out the AL group. The A's slugger, who broke onto the scene with 23 homers last year, has already hit 15 this season. He will be the first Derby participant since Ryan Howard in 2007 (after winning the year before) to participate in the event without being named an All-Star. Hee-Seop Choi (2005) and Rafael Palmeiro (2004) are the only others since 2000.
Davis, who had 33 homers as of Tuesday afternoon, wasn't worried about messing up his swing during the contest.
"I think as a power hitter growing up, it's one of the things that you look at as your own kind of special thing about the All-Star Game," he said. "The fact that so much attention is paid to the Home Run Derby, and there's so much hype around it, for me it's something that I'll look at as something I'd really like to do."
Wright selected Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Michael Cuddyer (both Rockies) to the NL squad. Carlos Gonzalez withdrew from the competition Thursday after suffering a sprained right middle finger earlier this week and was replaced on the Derby roster by Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
"I grew up with Michael," said Wright, who shares his hometown of Norfolk, Va., with Cuddyer. "I think that he's one of the more underrated players and a friend, and our relationship had a lot to do with it and his production had a lot to do with it. He has 15 or 16 home runs and had a 27-game hitting streak, so, for me, that was my choice.
"The other two I did based on who was leading the National League in home runs at the time -- CarGo -- and who the fans wanted to see, because it's ultimately for the fans. Bryce Harper won that running away, so those were the two picks, and with the third pick I had to represent Virginia and the 757.
The 2013 Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Of the three former Derby finalists, Cano and Fielder are the only players to have won the contest. Fielder won last year's event at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, edging the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista in the final round for his second crown. He also won it at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in '09. Cano finished first in 2011 at Arizona's Chase Field. Wright came close in '06, finishing second to Philadelphia's Ryan Howard at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Fielder said he noticed no negative recourse after participating.
"My swing stays the same," he said. "I think actually it helps me, because I actually start the swing the same. I swing like I want to swing. I feel like I'm a good hitter, but sometimes I try to become that too much and take away from my regular swing, instead of trying to just hit the ball as hard as I possibly can. Obviously sometimes you want to try to do something, but I think every now and then I get too much into that. So I think it actually helps me get my aggressiveness back as far as not trying to be too perfect."
Davis, enjoying a breakout season, will be starting in his first All-Star Game after being named on more than 8.2 million ballots, leading all players. He's already matched his previous career high in home runs, set last year.
Cano has gone deep 20 times, and he has averaged 30 a season for the past three years. Fielder has hit at least 30 homers for six straight seasons, including 50 in 2007.
Harper, who will be making his second All-Star appearance and first start -- even though he's still just 20 years old -- has 13 homers in just 175 at-bats due to injuries. Cuddyer has 15 and Wright has 13. Alvarez will compete in his first career Home Run Derby, and will become the fifth player in Pirates history to partake in the event, joining Bobby Bonilla (1990), Barry Bonds (1992), Jason Bay (1995) and Andrew McCutchen (2012).
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Fans can also download the official MLB.com Home Run Derby Game, featuring 24 sluggers from the 2010-12 Home Run Derby events. Connect and challenge gamers on the worldwide leaderboards. Available free on the Apple App Store.
Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.