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2 posts from July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Stanton, NL teammates already looking for next year's home run derby; when will Marlins Park host the All-Star Game?

MINNEAPOLIS -- Giancarlo Stanton didn't leave Target Field Monday as the Home Run Derby champion,  but that doesn't mean he's done trying.

The Marlins' 24-year-old slugger said Tuesday he's already looking forward to getting another chance in next year's derby at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, baseball's most prolific launching pad for home runs.

"I was already talking about that yesterday," said Pirates outfielder and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, who on Monday night got about as excited as anyone at Target Field watching Stanton launch baseballs into the upper deck in center field and left.

"Cincinnati, there's going to be stuff going out of the entire stadium," he continued. "Center field, probably right center, left -- and it won't only be Stanton. That's going to be a fun place to do the derby. I might try to hop in and get in on that one."

Said Stanton: "There won't be any three home run rounds in that place."

Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, who joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win the derby in back-to-back years, said he definitely felt like the long layoff Stanton and Jose Bautista had after winning Monday's opening round and earning a bye played a factor in the outcome. 

Stanton waited one hour and 10 minutes between at-bats. Bautista waited an hour and 56 minutes. Neither reached the final.

Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday there needs to be some tweaks to the derby, but also admitted "television wants a three-hour program. So there are things that make it difficult [to speed it up]."

Stanton, who didn't hit any home runs in the National League final, said he felt like he had a good approach at the plate. He said if he has to change anything for the derby next year it's "not to get the bye."

Even though Stanton didn't win the derby, many of his National League teammates said they enjoyed the show he put on in Round 1. Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon said Stanton's upper deck shot to center field is the furthest he's ever seen a ball hit and the ball that nearly left the field took his breath away.

"We do this for a living and for us to get as excited as we got says it all," McCutchen said. "We're jealous of his teammates because they get to see that all the time. I've never seen anything like that in my life. That's why I was so excited."

WHEN WILL MIAMI HOST?

Selig, speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday morning, said he plans on picking sites for the next two or three All-Star Games after Cincinnati (2015) before leaving the commissioner's office in January.

Is Marlins Park a legitimate candidate for any of those three years? "Yes," Selig told The Miami Herald as he was leaving the meeting.

Selig said although he would like to continue to alternate between American League and National League cities year to year he's not necessarily married to it especially in light that there are more new parks in the NL than the AL. 

Baltimore's Camden Yards is considered the favorite to land the 2016 midsummer classic with Nationals Park, which opened four years before Marlins Park, as a possible 2017 location. But it would be odd for baseball to award the game to the same area in consecutive years. 

Tropicana Field (Rays), Citizens Bank Park (Phillies), PETCO Park (Padres) and the new Yankees Stadium were also built before Marlins Park and have yet to host the All-Star Game.

Marlins President David Samson reached by phone Tuesday said the Marlins would love to host the All-Star Game "as soon as possible."

"We are ready, willing and able," Samson said. "But it's Minnesota's day today. When the commissioner says its the right time for us to host we'll be more than happy to do it."

Stanton puts on first round show, then a goose egg after long layoff at home run derby

MINNEAPOLIS -- The rest of the country found out what the Marlins have known for years now -- watching Giancarlo Stanton take batting practice can be breathtaking.

On the eve of the 85th All-Star Game, the Marlins' 6-6, 250-pound muscle-bound right fielder put on an epic display of power at the Home Run Derby -- the kind few rarely see because of his team's relative obscurity.

He hit a line drive shot off the batter's eye in center field an estimated 430 feet and bashed two bombs into the third deck. One of them nearly flew out of the park at Target Field and ESPN estimated it at 510 feet.

The only thing Stanton didn't do? Win.

After smacking six homers in the first round to earn a bye into the semifinals, Stanton's power ran dry. Really, though, he got cold.

Stanton didn’t swing for more than an hour as the rest of the field fought to stay in contention, and he eventually lost to the Reds' Todd Frazier 1-0 in stunning fashion in the National League final. Frazier went on to lose to defending champion Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland 9-1 in the final.

“It made a bigger difference than I thought it would,” Stanton said of the layoff. “I kind of have to find something to do in that time, stay warm. It's definitely a speed bump I couldn't get over in this one. But it was still fun.”

The Cuban-born Cespedes stayed warm throughout. He had to win a swing-off with A’s teammate Josh Donaldson to advance past the first round and slugged 28 homers total on the night en route to capturing back-to-back home run derby crowns.

Afterward, Cespedes said the new derby format definitely affected Stanton and Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who earned the American League’s bye with 10 homers in the first round. Bautista waited an hour and 55 minutes before he batted in the competition again. He only hit four homers in his semifinal loss to Cespedes.

“You usually don't do that for anything [during the regular season],” Stanton said of the long break. “I can't believe I goose-egged the second round.”

For Stanton, 24, it was a disappointing end to what started out as his big show.

His mammoth blasts drew the biggest reactions from the crowd of 40,558 in attendance. All-Stars on both sides were in disbelief when Stanton’s third-deck shot nearly left the park. He averaged 412 feet on his homers 

“That was the gold ball, the charity ball too,” Stanton said. “So you don't know how they're going to fly. It's tough to pick them up.”

Former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates came out to hug Stanton after his longest shot of the night. Stanton played up to the crowd, too, waving his arms up and down to try and get them louder.

“It was cool,” Stanton said of his moment. “It's what they're here for. It's what it's about.”

The start of the derby was delayed nearly an hour by rain in the area. Stanton was the fourth National League hitter to bat.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond served up the meatballs to Stanton. The two embraced on the field shortly after Stanton's stellar first round.

Despite the disappointing loss, Stanton said he isn’t ruling out a return to the derby next year.

“For sure,” Stanton said when asked if he would want to come back. “I’ve got to bring it back to the NL.”