Fielder plans to lead pack at Derby
While participants aren't set, Brewers slugger ready to rock
McCovey Cove outside AT&T Park in San Francisco could be seeing quite a few splash hits next Monday.
While the field for the State Farm Home Run Derby hasn't been set, at least one left-handed-batting slugger capable of putting some balls into the water behind the right-field seats -- National League home run leader Prince Fielder of Milwaukee -- said he intends to participate.
Fielder's dad, Cecil Fielder, took part in the Derby in all three of his All-Star seasons, 1990, 1991 and 1993, and young Prince attended each time. After watching all those years, Prince Fielder is looking forward to getting his cuts in the event.
"That will be fun," Prince Fielder said. "It just seemed like everybody was having fun, especially the guys on the side waving their towels when somebody from the same team is hitting. I just want to get one [home run] first."
The other seven contestants in the Derby field have not been finalized.
The big question is: Will hometown favorite Barry Bonds, the seven-time NL Most Valuable Player and owner of more splash hits than any other player, participate?
Bonds has appeared in the Derby six previous times and won the event in 1996 at Philadelphia. He has appeared in more Home Run Derbies than any player except Ken Griffey Jr. (eight) and Mark McGwire (seven). Bonds' 47 homers in the event are the fifth-highest total.
Will he step up to the plate once more?
"I don't think so. I don't have anything to prove in that," Bonds said Sunday in his postgame chat with reporters.
Later, Bonds left the tiniest of openings: "I'm 42, almost 43. It's asking a lot for me at my age to go out there and do that. I still have to go through this week of playing at Cincinnati and St. Louis. That's going to determine [whether I participate]."
No player has won more Home Run Derbies than Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. (three) or hit more homers in the event than the Reds outfielder (74). Griffey won the Derby as a member of the Seattle Mariners in 1994, 1998 and 1999.
Griffey is batting .292 with 53 RBIs in 75 games while ranking second in the NL with 22 home runs. With a three-run homer in the third inning Sunday, Griffey has 585 career homers and is ranked seventh all-time.
When asked Sunday whether he would participate, Griffey declined comment.
Last year, Ryan Howard of Philadelphia edged David Wright of the New York Mets in the Derby at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Howard did not make the All-Star team this season was asked if he would like to defend his crown. On Monday, Howard agreed to participate.
Wright will start at third base for the Senior Circuit in the July 10 All-Star Game, but said he won't participate in the Derby this year. Wright's teammate, center fielder Carlos Beltran, has no interest in the Derby either.
"If they had asked last year, I probably would have," said Beltran, who had 25 first-half homers in 2006, five more than Wright.
If asked, Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera said he would compete in the Derby.
Cabrera, an All-Star for the fourth consecutive season, said he hadn't been asked as of Sunday afternoon. Last year, he competed and hit 15 homers, good enough for a third-place finish behind Howard and Wright.
"That's something I'd like to do," said Cabrera, who is batting .329 with 17 home runs.
St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols has appeared in the Derby once previously but is unlikely to participate this time.
"I don't think I will," Pujols said. "There are going to be a lot of players probably that they ask before they ask me."
Fielder's teammate, All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy, is fifth in the NL with 18 home runs. Hardy also indicated he probably wouldn't be participating.
"I don't think I'm really the prototypical Home Run Derby guy," Hardy said. "Especially in San Francisco, that's a tougher ballpark to hit them out for righties. I think I might need some pitchers' velocity to get them out. I'm not really a home run hitter in [batting practice]."
Other All-Star sluggers who have indicated they will not participate this year include Boston's David Ortiz (who finished fourth in last year's Derby) and Manny Ramirez. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees isn't expected to participate.
Colorado's Matt Holliday, who leads the NL with a .349 batting average, would welcome the chance to compete.
"I'd do it," Holliday said. "I only have 13 [homers], so I'm probably not one of the top 10 or 15 guys in the league, but I would be willing to do it. But I'm not going to try to campaign myself into it."
Holliday, who puts on quite a show during batting practice, doesn't believe competing in the Derby would hurt his swing.
"I don't think it would affect me," Holliday said. "I would just try to have fun with it, sort of take it for what it's worth. I don't think it would hurt me too much. If they want me to do it, I'll do it. If not, fine, too."
Minnesota's Justin Morneau, fifth in the Major Leagues with 20 home runs, would like to take part.
"I would love to, if they asked me to," Morneau said. "I know I'll be incredibly nervous if I'm in it. I've been in a couple of them in the Minor Leagues and it's a lot of fun when you are out there. If you get in a groove, there is no feeling like it."
Morneau's teammate, All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter, said he would politely decline to take part.
"I'm just going to watch and enjoy it this time, [I] don't think I want to get in there," said Hunter, who participated in 2002 and hit three home runs at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
"I beat Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez," Hunter said. "I had three [and] they had one. I beat the home run kings. That's good enough for me."
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.