Brian Dozier figured his brother, Clay, would be nervous throwing to him at the Home Run Derby.
What he didn’t anticipate was that he himself would be so nervous as he stepped into the Derby spotlight for the first time.
Not hitting inside a batting cage will feel strange, he was told. Having a catcher there will not seem right, he was warned.
He tried to be prepared but found it difficult to get comfortable. He ended up with just two home runs, crashing out in the first round.
“I ain’t going to lie to you,” Dozier said. “It’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a very long time. It probably tops my debut.”
AL captain Jose Bautista picked Dozier to bat first, figuring the Target Field crowd would get locked in early. Their cheers of “Dozier! Dozier!” moved the Twins second baseman but were unable to lift more balls into the seats.
Dozier said his brother did a fine job pitching to him; he just couldn’t get going. But he said it was an experience he’ll never forget.
“The crowd was electric,” he said. “They started chanting ‘Dozier.’ That’s probably one of the highlight moments of my career, to be honest with you. Some chills came over my body.”
Trout opts to watch
The Home Run Derby isn’t for everybody. Sometimes hitters don’t want to do it, and sometimes their teams aren’t crazy about them doing it.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout might be the sport’s biggest current superstar, but he acknowledged Monday that his manager, Mike Scioscia, was against the idea of Trout being in the Derby.
“Sosh told me his opinion of it, but other than that, it’s my choice,” Trout said. “He was leaning for me not to do it. I’m sure if I would have said I want to do it, he would have supported it.”
Trout, 22, said Scioscia’s concerns were the toll the extra swings could take on his body.
“You always have to respect your manager, do what’s right for you and your team and your body, for sure,” he said.
Trout is batting .310 with 22 home runs, 73 RBI and an AL-best 1.005 OPS.
“It’s funny, I’m not really a home run hitter guy, if that makes sense,” Trout said. “I’m not trying to hit home runs during the game. I’m just trying for base hits, and the ball goes out of the park.
“But it’s fun to take some rounds in [batting practice]. In the near future, if I get an opportunity, I might do it.”
Others skip Derby, too
White Sox rookie Jose Abreu leads the AL with 29 homers, despite spending 15 days on the disabled list with tendinitis in his ankle.
“Coming into the season, that wasn’t a goal of mine, to participate in a Home Run Derby,” Abreu said. “If life gives me the opportunity in the future, and I feel like it’s the right opportunity, then I feel like I’d be happy participating. But this year, it wasn’t something that I wanted.”
Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz ranks second in the AL with 28 home runs.
“I had the chance to be there once [in 2009 when he was runner-up to Prince Fielder],” Cruz said. “I think it’s a great event. It’s a great experience, but right now, what my team needs is for me to rest and be focused for the second half.”
Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion ranks third in the AL with 26 home runs but is on the disabled list with a strained quad.
So, none of the AL Derby contestants ranked in the top five in home runs. Josh Donaldson has 20 homers, Brian Dozier 18, Jose Bautista 17, Adam Jones 16 and Yoenis Cespedes 14.