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In first Home Run Derby, Cuddyer hits 15 blasts

Rockies outfielder hits seven in round one, adds eight more in second round

NEW YORK -- David Wright apparently knew what he was doing when he chose childhood friend and Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer for the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on Monday night at Citi Field.

Cuddyer impressed in his first career Home Run Derby, launching seven homers in the first round to advance to the second round, where he blasted eight more for a total of 15 homers. However, it wasn't enough to advance to the finals, as Bryce Harper hit a combined 16 homers to advance along with Yoenis Cespedes, who hit 17 in the first round and six more in round two. Cespedes ended up winning his first Home Run Derby with nine more blasts in the final round to top Harper's eight.

Cuddyer, chosen by Wright who served as the National League captain, showed off his power with several deep drives to left field with Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells throwing to him. Cuddyer finished the night with an average homer length of 395 feet with a high of 421 feet. He also hit three gold balls for home runs, which raised $69,000 for charity.

Cuddyer described his strategy for hitting homers before the Derby, as he said he doesn't change his swing at all.

"It's funny, because in the big leagues, you're just trying to hit homers in the last couple rounds of batting practice," Cuddyer said. "But it's different here, because there's no cage around you and cameras are like five feet away."

Cuddyer also became the eighth different player in Rockies history to participate, joining Dante Bichette (1994), Ellis Burks ('96), Larry Walker ('97, '99), Vinny Castilla ('98), Todd Helton (2001), Matt Holliday ('08) and Carlos Gonzalez ('12).

Cuddyer advanced to the second round of the Derby along with Cespedes (17 homers), Chris Davis (eight) and Harper (eight). Pedro Alvarez, Prince Fielder, Wright and American League captain Robinson Cano failed to advance out of the first round.

Cuddyer didn't show any signs of tiring in the second round, as he crushed two homers before he recorded his first out.

He hit three shots that went more than 400 feet -- registered at 417, 413 and 411 feet -- with all of his homers either going out to left field or center in the second round.

Cuddyer opened up the first round with a 421-foot shot to dead center field with one out before hitting his next home run 380 feet.

He pulled the ball the rest of the way, launching a 412-foot blast into the second deck for his third homer before hitting two homers to left recorded at 392 and 404 feet, respectively.

Down to his last out, Cuddyer hit two homers with the gold ball, including one that just barely cleared the wall in left at 366 feet.

This year, Chevrolet and MLB are donating $23,000 to charity for every homer hit with a gold ball, which will be used when the players get down to their final out of each round.

It's part of a host of charity efforts that are part of the Home Run Derby. The AL defeated the NL by a final of 53 home runs to 50, and with the victory, Chevrolet and MLB will donate $150,000 to Cano's charity. In addition, $100,000 will be awarded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Cano's name. Also, $25,000 will be awarded to Wright's charity. All told, $529,000 was raised for charities.

Cuddyer also described his relationship with Wright, as they both were born in Norfolk, Va., and attended high school in Chesapeake.

"It means a lot," Cuddyer said of Wright choosing him to participate. "We're good friends and have been for probably the last 20 years. He's always backed me in my endeavors and I always do the same for him. He's one of the best guys you can ask for as a friend."

Cuddyer's performance didn't surprise his former Twins teammate and AL All-Star Glen Perkins, who predicted he'd win the Derby before the event.

"He's my guy," Perkins said. "I've seen him hit so much B.P. I really like his swing for the Home Run Derby."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
Read More: Colorado Rockies, Michael Cuddyer