Rangers slugger Prince Fielder is one of eight contestants set to face off in the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities next week in Cincinnati.
It’s the sixth time Fielder has competed in the derby. He won it in 2009 and 2012. He’s the first Rangers slugger to compete in the derby since Nelson Cruz in 2009.
The eight contestants are seeded by the number of home runs they’ve hit this season. No. 7 seed Fielder (13 homers) faces No. 2 seed Reds slugger Todd Frazier (25 homers). Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is the top seed with 26 homers. He faces Cubs rookie Kris Bryant (12 homers) in the first round.
The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
The rest of the field pits No. 4 seed Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson (20 homers) vs. No. 5 Oriole Manny Machado (19 homers) and No. 3 seed Blue Jay Josh Donaldson (21 homers) vs. No. 6 seed Cub Anthony Rizzo (16 homers).
Adrian Beltre is hitting .196 since returning from the disabled list 14 games ago, but manager Jeff Banister thinks he sees signs his third baseman is about to break out of it. Beltre struck three balls well in Tuesday’s loss but went 0 for 4. He hasn’t struck out in his past 17 at-bats entering Wednesday’s game.
“I think Adrian has made progress, with his swing, with his hand,” Banister said. “He battles through, grinds it out, nobody was worried after the three-hit game he had.”
But that was on June 29 in Baltimore. In the seven games since, he’s 4 for 27.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has yet to win a game at home and he thinks the problem could be the mound. Not that there’s anything wrong with the mound at Globe Life Park, it’s just that Rodriguez hasn’t yet felt his most comfortable. The numbers tell the story. He’s 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA on the road and 0-4 with a 7.42 ERA at home.
Rodriguez, who will start Friday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres, threw off the game mound during his last bullpen session to try acclimate himself.
“It’s about being comfortable, finding a way to be comfortable on the home mound,” Banister said.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the mound. Like anybody else, he’s trying to find a rhythm with it.”
▪ First baseman Kyle Blanks (Achilles tendinitis in both ankles) is hitting but still not running. Banister said he’s still a ways off from returning from the disabled list. He went on the DL on June 18.
▪ Left-hander Martin Perez could make one last rehab start before joining the Rangers’ roster after the All-Star break. Perez allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings Tuesday night with Triple A Round Rock in his first rehab start. Perez has a 3.66 ERA with 21 strikeouts and three walks in 192/3 innings in the minors. He had Tommy John surgery in May 2014.
13 Hits or more allowed by Rangers pitchers in four consecutive games entering Wednesday, tying a club record. It last happened in August 2008.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760