First things first: Prince Fielder has not been named to the American League All-Star team. No player has, and none will be until the starters are announced Sunday and the reserves Monday.
But he is the strong favorite to be picked for the July 14 game at Cincinnati and is likely to be the Texas Rangers’ lone representative. If Fielder is picked and is then asked to participate in the Home Run Derby, he won’t turn down the offer.
A two-time winner of the made-for-TV event, Fielder’s reasoning is simple: His two sons wouldn’t stand for him not being in there.
“Our course, not because I want to but because my kids would demand it,” Fielder said Monday. “I don’t think there’s any way I could go to the All-Star game and not do the Derby.”
Fielder is a two-time champion of the event, which is getting a new format this year. Instead of each hitter getting 10 outs in untimed rounds, hitters will get five minutes to hit as many homers as they can with the possibility of adding time for long homers.
“Five minutes?” he said. “Think about batting practice. You can hit 20 homers in batting practice.”
Fielder put to rest the notion that a home-run hitting contest would be detrimental to a swing that, entering Monday, had produced the AL top batting average (.351) and the most multihit games (33) in the majors. He has 12 homers.
There is some fatigue and soreness that comes with a derby. But as he puts it, he swings hard anyway and to do so in the derby would actually help him maintain his swing.
Fielder hit 24 of his 46 homers in 2009 after winning the derby, though he hit 32 points less than in the first half, and half of his 30 after his 2012 win while batting 32 points better than in the first half.
“I swing hard with accuracy,” said Fielder, who hit his 300th career homer Friday. “There’s somewhat of a controlled aggression to it. It enhances my aggressiveness along with my control. You’re trying to hit the ball out, but to hit a home run, you have to hit it perfect. The aggression and bat speed is going to be there. It kicks that in.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760