Albert Pujols was not sure if he was going to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby but his kids kept asking and he finally accepted.
Pujols, the Angels veteran first baseman, says he talked with Major League Baseball and confirmed he will be among the batters participating in the event Monday in Cincinnati, the contest has a new format starting this year. The All-Star game will be played on Tuesday. ”I’m going to give it one last chance,” Pujols said Tuesday. ”The good thing with Major League Baseball is they allow us to bring our kids onto the field on practice day so they’ll be able to enjoy that. They’ll have a great time and meet the players they get to watch every day.”
Pujols said he wanted to give the contest one last shot after being selected for the AL All-Star team this week. He will take Miguel Cabrera’s spot, who was put on the disabled list for the first time in his twelve year career.
Pujols decided not to participate last year because he was not selected for the All-Star Game. ”You want to be in the game,” he said. ”That’s the most important thing because you want to be able to have a chance to help the American League have home field advantage.”
Pujols received a call from the league telling him that he was selected as a reserve and immediately told his son, Alberto Jr., who had been texting him all morning. ”He was pretty pumped up because he gets on the field,” Pujols said.
This will be the fourth time the veteran participates in the derby. He was close to winning it in 2003, 2007 and 2009. Pujols said he is looking forward to the new format that was recently introduced. Instead of being given a number of outs per round each player will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The clock will stop after home run balls land in the final minute.
Players also have the chance to earn an extra minute and have more opportunities at increasing their score if they hit two home runs that go for 420 feet or more. They will also be rewarded with 30 seconds for every homer that goes for 475 feet or more. ”If anything it’ll be better because you don’t have to sit around so much like you did in the past,” he said. ”If I hit in the first round we had to wait until everybody hit and sometimes you sat an hour and a half, two hours.”
Pujols has had an amazing season so far, after being slowed down by injuries since his move to the Angels. Pujols entered Tuesday leading the American League with 25 home runs. His teammate, Mike Trout, is undecided. Bryce Harper has already confirmed that he will not participate.
Yoenis Cespedes has won the last two and will try to go for the three peat. The Tigers outfielder has put on a show in the last two, even hitting 17 home runs in one of the first rounds.