Two years ago, Pete Alonso put on an eye-popping show in a memorable Home Run Derby victory.
He plans to repeat the feat Monday night.
“We’re going to take it home again,” the Mets’ slugger said on Sunday before a 6-5 loss to the Pirates to close out the first half of the season. “I had a fun time winning it. I’m going to win it again.”
Alonso will enter this year’s derby with 17 home runs, and two in his previous three games. He likes where his power swing is at, and feels ready to repeat his 2019 heroics in the high altitude of Colorado.
He will face Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who has 21 homers so far this year, in the first round. The six other participants are Japanese slugging/pitching sensation Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, Trevor Story of the Rockies, Trey Mancini of the Orioles, Matt Olson of the Athletics, Juan Soto of the Nationals and Joey Gallo of the Rangers. Alonso is the fifth seed.
“It’s exciting. It’s going to be a really fun time,” said Alonso, who is looking to become the fourth player to win the competition more than once, joining Prince Fielder, Yoenis Cespedes and Ken Griffey Jr. “I love hitting at Coors [Field]. It’s a great [hitting] background, it’s always a fun environment and always a fun park to go play in.”
He was just the second rookie to win the derby (Aaron Judge was the first in 2017) and first Met to claim the crown outright when he was the last man standing in 2019 in Cleveland. That experience should only help him. The other seven participants will be making their derby debuts. Like last time, Alonso’s strategy is simple: Patience.
“It’s a lot of swings,” he said. “[I want to] conserve energy and be able to maximize my time.”
Two years ago when Alonso won it all, beating Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the final round, his cousin Derek Morgan threw to him. This year, it will be bench coach Dave Jauss. The 64-year-old Jauss threw batting practice in the derby once before, in 1999, to Nomar Garciaparra and B.J. Surhoff. He will have his three sons in Colorado there with him.
“Of course we weren’t able to match [Mark] McGwire or [Ken] Griffey [Jr.] or [Sammy] Sosa, because it was some kind of Derby,” Jauss said.
Jauss hopes he isn’t remembered for his performance on Monday. That means he did his job.
“Make sure the hitter uses his talents and strengths. Make sure you take yourself out of it,” he said. “It’s kind of like a good umpire, you don’t even know he’s there. Good ‘BP’ thrower, you don’t even know he’s there because the [hitter’s] talent will show.”
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