Alvarez ousted early in Home Run Derby
NEW YORK — The Home Run Derby wasn't exactly a blast for Pedro Alvarez, but he wasn't about to complain.
The Pirates' prodigious third baseman homered six times and was eliminated in the first round of the eight-man All-Star event Monday night at Citi Field, one that eventually was won by Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland.
“I don't think it's hit me yet, to be honest,” Alvarez told reporters afterward. “It was a surreal experience. Obviously, I've never experienced something like that. I was glad to be a part of something like that.”
Cespedes, like Alvarez a late addition, outdueled Washington's Bryce Harper, 9-8, in the final round for his first Derby crown.
Each player is challenged to hit as many home runs as he can before making 10 “outs,” or anything other than a home run. Alvarez started slowly, as most participants do, with four outs, but he eventually began an assault on the stadium's second deck in right field. That's where four of his balls landed, one to the top row. Another hit off the second-deck façade, another carried well beyond right-center.
Alvarez was cheered throughout by a crowd comprising mostly Mets fans, this following one of their own — David Wright — being booed all weekend at PNC Park for not initially choosing Alvarez in his role as Derby captain for the National League.
That topic did not subside Monday, being raised repeatedly by the New York media with several players.
Before leaving Pittsburgh, Alvarez had declined to answer questions about Wright being booed there. But he did take one Monday.
“You know, I'm really good friends with David,” Alvarez said. “I felt for the guy because sometimes things are blown out of proportion, and that's exactly what it was. I obviously appreciate the support I get from my fans and everything but … you know, it's just one of those things that got blown out of proportion. At the end of the day, I'm here. I felt bad for the guy.”
Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown, an equally egregious initial snub by Wright who never got added, criticized the booing of Wright.
“I don't understand that, man,” Brown said. “I don't understand why he's getting heat about it. He's the captain. He has a right to pick his team. I would have had a lot of fun with it, but he picked some great guys that drive the ball out of the ballpark, so I don't know why he's getting heat for it.”
Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer, Wright's friend and his most controversial choice, said: “I thanked him for going to bat for me. Obviously today, after knowing what he had to go through that weekend in Pittsburgh, I thanked him again.”
Cuddyer had seven home runs, one more than Alvarez, to advance to the second round.
Some Derby participants have suffered in the second half because the event prompted them to alter their approach, even their swings.
Alvarez shrugged when asked if he had any such worry.
“I've never been in a Derby, so I'm just kind of taking it all on the fly,” he replied. “We'll see.”