1st-time All-Star Rutschman to tag-team with dad in Derby

July 3rd, 2023

NEW YORK -- Over the years,  and his father, Randy, had discussed the possibility of teaming up for the Home Run Derby one day. If Rutschman eventually got an opportunity to participate in the marquee event, he would call his dad to invite him to serve as the pitcher.

That call was made as soon as the 25-year-old Orioles catcher accepted an invitation to participate in the 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby (July 10 on ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), which he announced on his Instagram on Monday afternoon.

“Easiest decision,” Rutschman said of incorporating his dad in his first Derby appearance. “It’s one of those things you have to do.”

Another reason it will be special is that it will be a homecoming of sorts for Rutschman and his family, many of whom are expected to drive roughly three hours north to attend the All-Star Week festivities at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Rutschman was born in Portland, Ore., attended Sherwood (Ore.) High School and went to Oregon State University in Corvallis.

The first MLB game Rutschman attended as a kid was at T-Mobile Park. Now, he’ll step on the field there as both a Home Run Derby participant and as a first-time All-Star for the Midsummer Classic on July 11.

“It means a lot. I know a lot of people out there. It’s basically home,” Rutschman said. “I know my dad’s really excited. I know it’s going to be a lot of stuff going on, a lot on the schedule, but it’ll be fun to just be a part of it.”

With Rutschman's announcement, the ‘23 Derby field is shaping up like this, with two more spots still to be filled:

Pete Alonso, Mets (who won in both 2019 and ‘21)
Randy Arozarena, Rays
Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
Adley Rutschman, Orioles

Rutschman will be the first Baltimore player to compete in the Derby since 2021, when Trey Mancini finished as the runner-up to Alonso. Two Orioles hitters have won the event -- Cal Ripken Jr. (1991) and Miguel Tejada (2004). Rutschman will also try to become the first catcher to win the star-studded event.

“So cool that he’s going to have that experience,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s always fun watching somebody you know really well. And it’s a lot of pressure, too. Everybody’s pulling for him.”

As a switch-hitter, Rutschman has the choice to hit from either the left or the right side of the plate in the Home Run Derby. On Monday, he was still unsure what his strategy will be, although he noted he’ll “probably start out left-handed.”

Rutschman is one of four Baltimore players on the American League roster for the All-Star Game, as he’ll be joined by closer Félix Bautista, reliever Yennier Cano and outfielder Austin Hays. So Rutschman will have plenty of on-field support when he’s trying to slug balls over the wall in the Derby.

While Rutschman is one of the top offensive catchers in the sport, he isn’t necessarily known for being a home run hitter. He has 11 homers in 79 games this year and 24 over his first 192 big league contests. His approach is always to try to put together a strong at-bat, and sometimes, that will lead to the ball clearing the fence.

Hyde seems to think Rutschman has a solid chance of becoming a Derby champion.

“Nothing would surprise me, results-wise, if he puts on a show,” Hyde said.

For Rutschman, though, it’s just a great opportunity to take at least one round of swings against his dad -- much like the batting practice they continue to share together during the offseason -- and to soak in the special atmosphere.

“It’s just one of those things you dream about as a kid,” Rutschman said. “To be able to do it with my dad, it’s awesome.”