McCutchen hits four in Home Run Derby
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It didn't take long for Andrew McCutchen to ditch the royal-blue All-Star Game hat that was part of the National League's uniform Monday night in the Home Run Derby.
When he strolled to the plate at Kauffman Stadium, he wore a black-and-gold skull cap with the Pirates' "P" in the middle instead.
He remembers watching his childhood hero Ken Griffey Jr. competing in the Derby with his own style.
"All I can remember is him just going up, that hat backwards. I call it swagged out," McCutchen said. "The way he was all about, he had a swag about him where it was Griffey's show. It was his show."
McCutchen couldn't match Griffey's production -- McCutchen hit four home runs while Griffey owns three Home Run Derby titles (including one at Three Rivers Stadium in 1994), the most all time. But he was happy to have a chance to participate in the same event as the player he grew up idolizing.
"I always just used to watch and just be like 'That's amazing,'" McCutchen said. "'That would be great to do that one day.' And, what the heck, here I am."
Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder won his second Home Run Derby crown, blasting 12 home runs in the championship round to beat Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. Bautista, a former Pirates player, hit seven in the final round.
Fielder hit 16 home runs in the first two rounds, and Bautista hit 13, beating Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels in a tiebreaker, to advance to the final.
McCutchen did not make it past the first round, missing the cutoff by one home run.
"Man, what a fun time that was!" he tweeted after finishing. "Didn't hit as many as I wanted but hey ... at least I didn't put up a goose egg!"
The previous Pirates player to compete in the Derby, Jason Bay, went homerless in 2005 at Comerica Park in Detroit.
McCutchen hit more home runs than the past three Pirates to compete in the Derby combined. In 1992, Barry Bonds hit two home runs in San Diego, and Bobby Bonilla went homerless in 1990 at Wrigley Field.
His first home run landed in the bushes in left field, a 435-foot shot. He hit his next home run 1 foot farther, also to left field. His third home run of the competition, a 412-foot blast, splashed into a waterfall in left-center field, the first water shot of any participant in the event. His final homer fell in the bullpen in left field, 400 feet away from the plate.
McCutchen finished tied for fifth out of eight Derby participants in the first round.
Defending champion and American League captain, the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano, was loudly booed by the partisan crowd because he did not select Royals slugger Billy Butler to the team. Cano also drew the loudest cheers of the night -- when he failed to muster a home run.
NL captain and Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp did not fare much better, finishing with one home run.
McCutchen was the final player selected for the Derby after Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton pulled out with a knee injury. Kemp texted McCutchen with the invitation this past weekend.
The question caught McCutchen off guard.
"I felt like a ton of bricks was dropped on me," he said.
He was initially apprehensive, nervous even. He was honored, but wasn't sure the event was for him.
"I was like, 'Man there's going to be national TV and all these people. I don't want to swing and miss,'" he said.
A brief discussion with his girlfriend convinced him to swing away.
"You only live once," he said.
As nervous as he was about his performance, he was even more nervous for his pitcher, his high school coach, Jon Spradlin, who had never been in an environment like the one Monday night. Spradlin spends most of his time on the diamond at Fort Meade High School in Florida.
"We've got a cow pasture in the back," McCutchen said. "There aren't many people there."
First Published July 10, 2012 12:00 am