WASHINGTON (AP)Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez and Guardians slugger Jose Ramirez will compete in the All-Star Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium next Monday.
Rodriguez will be the 14th rookie to participate, and only two of those have won outright: Pete Alonso in 2019 and Aaron Judge in 2017. Alonso is the two-time defending champion and leads the eight-person field for this year’s Derby along with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber and Nationals’ Juan Soto.
Rodriguez announced his entry on social media. The 21-year-old leads major league rookies with 15 home runs entering Wednesday and is third with a .477 slugging percentage. That’s after going homerless over his first 20 career games and recording his first career home run May 1.
”Since I can remember I’ve been watching Home Run Derbies every time I get the chance,” Rodriguez said. ”Since I was a kid I have that dream to play in one and now that I’ve got a chance to be in one, it’s very surreal that it’s happening. I’m just very excited to participate in it.”
And his strategy?
”I’m gonna go for homers, man,” Rodriguez said.
He is the seventh player in Mariners club history to participate in the Home Run Derby and the first since Robinson Cano in 2016. Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. is the only Mariners player to ever win (three times: 1994, 1998 & 1999).
”It’s Julio. I’m sure he’ll do well,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. ”He’ll represent the Mariners very, very well.”
The Mariners outfielder, who is hitting .274 with 44 RBIs, 50 runs and 21 stolen bases, was announced as a member of the American League All-Star Team on Sunday.
He sat out the opener of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader in Washington but went 1 for 4 in the second game.
Ramirez was elected to his fourth All-Star Game this year. He’ll try to become the first switch-hitter to win the Derby outright after Eric Davis tied for the 1989 crown. Ramirez has 17 home runs this season, 14 of them as a left-handed hitter.
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