A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will defend his Home Run Derby title Monday at Target Field, it was announced Tuesday.
Cespedes, who was already headed to Minneapolis as part of the American League roster for the All-Star Game, was named to the A.L.’s Derby team by captain Jose Bautista of Toronto. Also on the A.L. squad are Minnesota’s Brian Dozier and Baltimore’s Adam Jones.
The National League’s Derby team includes captain Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado, Todd Frazier of Cincinnati, Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giancarlo Stanton of Miami. Both teams have one spot to be filled Thursday.
Cespedes will try to become the first player to win the event in back-to-back years since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99. Cespedes hit 17 homers in the first round of last year’s event and 32 overall. A’s third-base coach Mike Gallego, who pitched to Cespedes last year in New York, will reprise his role Monday.
Manager Bob Melvin said there’s always some nervousness over having a player in the Derby because of the number of max-effort swings involved, but he supports Cespedes’ decision.
“It was so entertaining last year, and whenever you get an opportunity to do that as a player, I certainly understand that,” Melvin said. “At the end of the day, it is a very entertaining event, and the fact that he won it last year gave us a little more exposure, probably a good thing. You just hope nobody gets hurt.”
Cespedes missed four games because of a wrist issue shortly after the All-Star break last year, but Melvin said he doesn’t think that was a result of participating in the Derby.
Gallego, meanwhile, said he’s “nervous as hell” about serving as Cespedes’ pitcher again. As for what Gallego learned last year: “Just try to hit the spot that he’s looking for. I always thought it was a higher fastball, but he wants it low, so that’s what I’m going to strive for.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said Scutaro (lower back strain) still needs to play nine innings and on back-to-back days before the Giants would activate him but added, “We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Bochy said Scutaro could join the Giants before the end of July. Depending on when Angel Pagan returns from back inflammation, that would give the Giants the lineup they planned for Opening Day for the first time this season.
“That would be awesome,” Bochy said. “Because it’s been a long road for Marco … you don’t lose hope, but you start getting that doubt. But now it looks like he’s starting to make some really nice progress, and this really could happen here in July.”