Pujols up for one last Home Run Derby
ANAHEIM -- If Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is chosen for the All-Star Game, a growing possibility given his scorching hot month of June, he'd like to take part in the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders.
"And," said Pujols, "I think it would be the last one."
Pujols, who entered Monday with an American League-leading 23 homers, has competed in the Home Run Derby three other times. He finished second to former Angels outfielder Garret Anderson at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago in 2003, finished tied for third at AT&T Park in San Francisco in '07 and finished fourth at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in '09.
Pujols has always dismissed the notion that the Home Run Derby can mess up his swing. He's never felt the need to alter it for the competition, even though he calls himself "a line-drive hitter with power; not a home run hitter."
Pujols wants to do the event one last time so that his teenage son, A.J., can enjoy watching his father in the Home Run Derby a little better, and so that his youngest son, Ezra, can see him, too. Pujols even told Dino Ebel, the Angels' bench coach who throws him batting practice, to "be ready" to join him in Cincinnati, just in case.
Pujols would have to be invited, of course. And he has a very important condition: "Like I told you last year, I won't do it if I'm not at the [All-Star] Game."
"If that happens, I think I'm all for it," said Pujols, looking to make his first All-Star team since 2010. "I'll give it a shot."
Question is: Could Mike Trout join him?
Six sets of teammates have taken part in the Home Run Derby since 2000 and two sets did it at Target Field in Minneapolis just last season -- Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes of the A's, and Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau of the Rockies.
Pujols and Trout -- with 19 home runs entering Monday's series opener against the Yankees -- have easily combined for more home runs than any other pair of teammates in the Majors.
But Trout is still undecided.
"I'm not trying to think about it right now," said Trout, who leads AL outfielders in fan votes for the All-Star Game. "I'll think about it closer to the time."
The Home Run Derby, slated for July 13 at Great American Ball Park, has turned into a bracket-style competition this year. Eight players will take part in a single-elimination tournament where each batter has five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible, though extra time can be earned based on distances.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has previously pointed to the heavy workload in expressing his concern with players taking part, though he insists that he ultimately leaves it up to them to decide.
He hasn't studied the new format yet.
"But I think any format that would cut the number of full-gorilla swings that a hitter has to take, that would still give you a meaningful result to still make it a Home Run Derby, would be welcome," Scioscia said. "As long as it makes sense."