There was much dismay, consternation, anger, irritation, even exasperation that National League captain David Wright did not initially select Pedro Alvarez to the 2013 Home Run Derby.
“Everyone got to gyrate,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Point is: Alvarez is in now. Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, chosen because he leads the NL in home runs, suffered a finger injury that will keep him out of the contest. Wright texted his next choice, Alvarez, who was excited and appreciative for the Derby spot. He and the Mets are in town to face the Pirates this weekend.
“For me it was a pretty simple choice,” Wright said, adding that Alvarez being from New York City played a part in his decision. “Pedro was very deserving from the start. I just didn’t have enough spots.”
Wright said (Fred) he picked Washington’s Bryce Harper as the fan’s vote and Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer as his personal choice because the two grew up together in Virginia. He singled out Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown as someone he wish he could have chosen.
Alvarez: "I mean, it’s just like BP, right? I’ve never done it before. Best piece of advice I’ve heard is not to do anything different."
— Karen Price (@KPFreelancePgh) July 12, 2013
Monday will mark Alvarez’s first Home Run Derby, but the second for Wright. The Mets third baseman finished second in Pittsburgh’s 2006 Derby. He entered the All-Star Break that year with 20 homers but only hit 6 after the Derby.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Wright said. “You’re working on things when you take batting practice. This thing there’s one goal: hit the ball as hard as you can.”
ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockroft wrote in 2007 that much of the idea that Derby hitters decline in the 2nd half is based on regression:
“All-Stars generally are selected based on stellar performance from April through June, a small enough sample size that a handful of players annually squeak onto the roster on the basis of what could be called the most productive three months of their careers. In the ensuing months, those players revert closer to normal statistical levels.”
Alvarez’s 23 home runs put him on a pace for a career-best total of 41, but the left-handed hitter is due to regress given his career-high 32.4% of fly balls this season turning into homers. Teammate Jeff Locke likes his odds, saying Alvarez impresses in batting practice.
“He should have been doing it the whole time,” Locke said. “It would be doing a disservice to Major League Baseball had he not been in the Home Run Derby.”
Bucs Add Hitter for Alderson
The Pirates traded RHP Tim Alderson, their return from trading Freddy Sanchez in 2009, to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for 1B/OF Russ Canzler.
— Tim Alderson (@TimmyJim32) July 12, 2013
Tim wrote earlier that Canzler has a history of minor-league success hitting left-handed pitchers, and Hurdle described the new guy as a right-handed-hitting corner option who can play multiple positions. The Pirates will try the first baseman by trade in right field and third base for Indianapolis. Was the move made to improve the 40-man roster when rosters expand in September?
“There’s always an element of that going on throughout the season,” Hurdle said. “As you get toward the back end of the season, it’s like pouring gas in a funnel. A lot of it spins around, you want to get it right down into that small hole coming out.”
Hurdle clarified that the gas represents the 65 players available to form a roster. I’m not sure what the funnel is exactly.
- Wright on playing the Pirates: “It’s all kind of culminating now and they’re playing great baseball…. These guys are one of the premier teams in the National League.”
- Hurdle said there will be a “small shuffling” of the rotation, mindful that the Pirates play an important series against the Cincinnati Reds right after the All-Star Break.
- Locke does not expect to pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game after starting Sunday, but injuries or extra innings could arise to make him available.
- Neil Walker (right side soreness) is making “minimal” progress from his injury.
- Andrew McCutchen on the upcoming trade deadline: “It’s not my forté.”
- Expect sellout or close-to-sellout crowds all weekend long at PNC Park.