Alonso, Pujols, Acuña say they’re in for Home Run Derby

  • New York Mets’ Pete Alonso - winner of back-to-back All-Star Home Run Derby competitions - will try to make it three in a row in the July 18 competition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

ATLANTA — Mets slugger Pete Alonso will try to become the first player to win the All-Star Home Run Derby three consecutive times against a field that will also include the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr.

The New York first baseman confirmed Monday he is one of eight participants in the July 18 competition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

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“It’s a really fun event, and it’s going to be super exciting,” Alonso said before the Mets played at Atlanta on Monday night. “I have a really good plan to go into it and, again, I have just so much fun. I don’t think anyone has more fun than I do, especially when it comes to this event.”

Dave Jauss, who was the Mets’ bench coach and is now a Washington Nationals special assistant, will pitch to Alonso for the second straight Derby.

“Just need to give him about two pots of coffee for before and a case of Bud Lite for after, and he said he’s good to go,” Alonso said.

Alonso hit 74 total home runs in last year’s Derby at Denver’s Coors Field and beat Baltimore’s Trey Mancini 23-22 in the final round. Alonso joined Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) in winning consecutive titles. Griffey also won in 1994 and is the only three-time champion.

Pujols will participate in his fifth Derby after coming up short in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2015. He and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera were added to the All-Star rosters as special selections by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Pujols will make his 11th All-Star appearance and participate in the Derby at one of his former homes. He played 85 games with the Dodgers last season after being cut by the Los Angeles Angels, then signed with St. Louis before this season, which he has said will be his last.

The 42-year-old Pujols has five homers this season and 684 in his career, fifth on the career list.

“It’s an honor to be back in the All-Star Game and to have a chance to be part of the Home Run Derby, that’s something I enjoy a lot and my kids will have a blast,” Pujols said Monday night. “Hopefully, I can put on a good show for them, because at the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about putting a good show for the fans.”

Acuña, the Atlanta star who will be a starting outfielder for the National League, will compete in his second Home Run Derby. Acuña was eliminated by Alonso in 2019, when he set a career high with 41 homers.

Acuña will compete in the Derby even though he is not one of seven Atlanta players with 10 or more homers.

Acuña entered Monday night’s game against the Mets hitting .274 with eight homers. He missed 19 games at the start of the season as he continued his recovery from reconstructive surgery on his right knee.

Acuña was the NL’s leader in All-Star voting.

Joey Gallo, Shohei Ohtani, Matt Olson, Salvador Pérez, Juan Soto and Trevor Story also competed last year.

There was no Derby in 2020, when the All-Star Game scheduled for Dodger Stadium was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alonso won the 2019 Derby at Cleveland as a rookie when he defeated Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the final round, also by 23-22. Guerrero, whose father won the event in 2007, hit 91 total homers but tired in the final round.

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