Bellinger thrilled with HR Derby experience

Dodgers rookie narrowly beats Blackmon before falling to Judge

July 10th, 2017

MIAMI -- Consider a realist. When asked Monday about his chances of toppling in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Bellinger -- a 21-year-old rookie who has surpassed just about every other expectation of him this season -- quipped: "Negative 12."
Not often has Bellinger fallen short of his goals. But Judge proved too much even for the charmed Dodgers first baseman to overcome.
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With his father, Clay, pitching to him in his Home Run Derby debut, Bellinger hit 27 homers in two rounds, peppering the right-field stands with baseballs. His average homer went 403 feet. His longest went 446 feet. Even that wasn't enough to match Judge, the night's eventual champion, who hit 13 in the semifinals -- including one a Marlins Park-record 513 feet -- to knock out Bellinger.

"I knew I had no chance," Bellinger said. "At that point, I'm just glad I won the first round. It was pretty tiring. I was just trying to get out as many as I could."

Nearly losing to Colorado's Charlie Blackmon in the first round, Bellinger hit his 13th and longest homer with one second remaining in his allotted four minutes, that 446-foot shot earning him 30 seconds of bonus time. He then hit his 15th homer as the extra time expired to knock out Blackmon.

That Judge loomed in the semifinals hardly fazed Bellinger, who was thrilled simply to compete in the event. When asked to participate in his first Home Run Derby, Bellinger said he would only do so if his father, a former big leaguer who hit 12 career home runs over four seasons with the Yankees and Angels, would pitch to him. The elder Bellinger, who has thrown batting practice to his son his entire life, jumped at the chance to do it in front of 37,027 people at Marlins Park.

"That was cool. That was a good time," Clay Bellinger said in the post-Derby clubhouse. "He was looking to have a good first round, kind of put a good showing out there. To [beat Blackmon] with a walk-off there, that's pretty special. ... He's happy, which is cool. So I'm happy."

Perhaps it was fitting that Bellinger squared off with Judge, the ninth and 10th rookies ever to compete in the event. One of the others, , is Bellinger's teammate in Los Angeles. All told, eight Dodgers have competed in the Derby, including Mike Piazza, and Matt Kemp.
"I didn't know what to expect, but that was more than I expected," Bellinger said. "That was probably the best time I've had playing baseball."
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