Alonso will defend HR Derby title; Guerrero will sit out

Sports

New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hits a two-run single during the third inning of the team’s baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets’ Pete Alonso will defend his Home Run Derby title at Coors Field on July 12, but there will be no rematch with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays, who has decided not to take part.

Alonso made his announcement Wednesday on his Instagram page.He joins Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels in the derby, held on the night before the All-Star Game.

Alonso won the derby at Cleveland’s Progressive Field in 2019, the last time it was held, by defeating Guerrero 23-22 in the final round.

Guerrero, who shared the MLB home run lead with Ohtani heading into Wednesday’s play, spoke before the Blue Jays’ game in Miami. Guerrero also leads All-Star voting and plans to play in the game, but said he wants to get some rest during the break.

“I feel good physically,” Guerrero said through a translator. “Everything is going well. There is a long way to go still. I just want to keep it that way.”

Guerrero has 23 homers and also leads MLB in slugging and OPS. Alonso has 11 homers and set a rookie record with 53 in 2019.

The derby and All-Star Game were canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed the start of the Major League Baseball season until late July.

Only two players have won consecutive home run derbies: Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 at Coors Field and 1999 at Boston’s Fenway Park, and Oakland’s Yoenis Céspedes in 2013 at New York’s Citi Field and 2014 at Minneapolis’ Target Field.

Guerrero said he decided to skip this year’s event after consulting with his father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.

Guerrero Jr. said he’ll be at the derby as a spectator.

“I’m planning to take my camera with the mike on to record everything, and enjoy the moment and support the rest of the guys,” he said.

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