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Vlad Jr. revisits 91-HR performance in Derby

'I wasn't even looking at them. Somebody told me one hit the big screen'
@baseballexis
July 12, 2019

NEW YORK -- Four days have passed since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stole the show in the Home Run Derby on Monday, but the spotlight still shone brightly on the 20-year-old slugger at Yankee Stadium on Friday when the Blue Jays arrived to start the second half against the American League

NEW YORK -- Four days have passed since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stole the show in the Home Run Derby on Monday, but the spotlight still shone brightly on the 20-year-old slugger at Yankee Stadium on Friday when the Blue Jays arrived to start the second half against the American League East rivals.

Ahead of the series opener, Guerrero relived some of the highlights of the event that saw him set both single-round and overall Derby records with 29 home runs in the first round, 40 in an exciting second that saw a tiebreaker and multiple swingoffs, and 22 in the final round that saw him finish second to Mets slugger Pete Alonso, finishing with 91.

"I just went over there to really enjoy the moment and to spend a great time with all the other guys from the other teams, and the whole experience was just great," Guerrero said through interpreter Hector Lebron. "I felt great. I was very happy about the way I did, and I was just doing the best I could in the moment to hit home runs."

According to the Derby's youngest-ever participant, no homer he hit was more memorable than any other.

"To be honest with you, all of them [stood out]," Guerrero said. "All 91. Actually, I wasn't even looking at them. Somebody told me one hit the big screen, but all 91."

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo took in the event from his home in Toronto with his youngest son, Alex, and was not only impressed by the display but also relieved that Guerrero came out of it unscathed.

"He did a good job," Montoyo said. "That was fun to watch. And he didn't get hurt, so that's good. That's a lot of swings, for anyone."

Heading into the second half after slashing .249/.328/.413 with eight homers, 13 doubles and 25 RBIs in 61 games, Guerrero is excited to be back on the field after the All-Star break and to see what more he can take in throughout the rest of the season.

"Every day you learn something new," Guerrero said. "There are people who have 20 years in the big leagues who are still learning. So you just need to keep working hard every day, and hopefully we have a good second half."

Trade talk
While the trade rumours run rampant north of the border, with Marcus Stroman in the spotlight of many discussions, and a number of other veteran players in the Blue Jays clubhouse seemingly in the mix, Montoyo believes his team is just taking everything one day at a time, trying not to focus on how the roster might change in the near future.

"That happens everywhere," Montoyo said of the rumours. "We're focused on trying to win a game today and the next day. [The players] are going to read what people write and stuff, but we're just focused on playing the games. That's how everybody [deals with] it.

"I don't have any control over any of that. So whenever [the Trade Deadline] gets here, it gets here. If it happens, it happens, but I want these guys to do well today, and then after today, tomorrow."

While Guerrero echoed his manager's sentiment about not worrying over things beyond his control, he has enjoyed the dynamic the Blue Jays have to offer with a significant veteran presence and a number of young players in their freshman and sophomore seasons.

"We're very close in the clubhouse," Guerrero said. "The support from the veteran guys is very important for all the young guys like myself, so that's key in the clubhouse for us to have."

And after an encouraging finish to the first half of the season, Montoyo is looking forward to seeing what the players he has right now can do.

"My 25 guys," Montoyo said of whose second half he's most excited for. "We've got a really good group, we really do. I'm very lucky when it comes to that. I don't take that for granted."

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.