Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has never participated in a home run derby on any level, but he wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass.
“I made it well aware that I was up for it and wasn’t going to turn it down,” Dozier said.
After a few days of uncertainty, Dozier finally received the call on Tuesday morning. The All-Star Game’s host city will have a representative in Monday’s Home Run Derby at Target Field.
Dozier was one of the eight players announced to participate. It’s the sixth time a Twins player has been involved with the event, which started at the Metrodome in 1985.
“It’s something you watch as a kid growing up and you [now] have an opportunity to do it,” Dozier said. “Especially at Target Field in front of the home fans, it should be a lot of fun.”
Dozier will join Athletics outfielder and defending champion Yoenis Cespedes on the AL side, along with the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista and the Orioles’ Adam Jones. The NL will have the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki and the Reds’ Todd Frazier. All are righthanded hitters.
The final two participants will be announced Thursday.
Dozier has a chance to become the second player to win the Home Run Derby in his ballpark. Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg accomplished the feat in 1990 at Wrigley Field. Dozier ranks third all-time with 21 career home runs at Target Field. He leads the team with nine homers at home this season.
Justin Morneau, now with the Rockies, is the only Twins player to win the Home Run Derby, in 2008. Dozier thinks it’s a no-brainer for Morneau to be the NL’s fifth participant.
“If Morneau is in it, I got no chance,” Dozier joked.
Dozier will have his brother, Clay, pitch to him. Clay was an outfielder and lefthanded pitcher at Itawamba Community College and Delta State, both in Mississippi. Brian hopes his brother won’t get too nervous, but Clay isn’t sure how he’ll maintain his composure.
“I could say yes and lie to you, but have I ever had 15 million eyes on me? No, I haven’t,” Clay said. “… I should be a little rusty but all I got to do is hit the mitt right?”
This year’s derby features a new format consisting of five players from each league, with Bautista and Tulowitzki serving as the AL and NL captains who pick the participants.
Each player will get seven outs per round, instead of 10 in the old format, to determine the bracket seeds. The home run leader in each league after the first round will receive a bye and advance to the third round, while the next two players from each league will face off in a head-to-head matchup in the second round. The event will now last four rounds.
La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.