Fielder wants Kemp on NL's Derby squad
If asked, Dodgers slugger says he'll participate in event
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brewers All-Star slugger Prince Fielder is taking his job as National League captain for the State Farm Home Run Derby seriously, and so far, he has settled on just one of his three picks.
That pick is one of three NL starters in the outfield, but it's not Brewers teammate Ryan Braun. Fielder wants Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp on his team.
"He's guaranteed, I think," Fielder said. "Yeah, he's a guarantee, Kemp, if he wants to."
Fielder said he had not talked to Kemp as of Sunday morning. But he has communicated with him through a mutual friend, Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn, a former Brewers teammate of Fielder's.
Kemp, who entered Sunday leading the NL with 22 home runs, had indicated to reporters that he would be excited for the opportunity to swing for the fences in the Derby.
"I'm pretty sure if [Fielder] picks me, I'm in it," said Kemp. "As a kid, everybody dreams of going up against the biggest home-run hitters in baseball. I remember seeing Frank Thomas in it and it's been one of my dreams, definitely, if I get the chance to be in it."
The Cardinals' two All-Star outfielders, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday, expressed interest Sunday in the Derby as well, and would bring plenty of experience to the NL squad. Berkman has been in the Derby four times, in 2002, '04, '06 and '08. Holliday participated in '07 and '10.
"It would be hard to turn down an invitation," Berkman said. "That would be tough to say no."
All three Reds All-Stars also said they would be open to joining Fielder in the Derby.
"If they ask me to do it, I'll probably do it," said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. "I know the Reds probably don't want me to do it. I feel like I could put a show on for the fans."
As for Fielder's teammates, Braun said before Sunday's series finale against the Twins that he was officially out.
"Oh yeah, I'm out for sure," Braun said. "I was leaning toward not doing it, but I'm definitely not doing it now."
Something that may have added to Braun's decision to not participate this year is the opportunity for another Brewers All-Star to take part in the Derby.
Second baseman Rickie Weeks, one of three Brewers starters in the All-Star Game along with Fielder and Braun, could be the fourth Milwaukee slugger to give the Derby a shot in the last five years. Fielder made his first appearance in 2007, Braun did it in '08 in New York, Fielder won the '09 contest in St. Louis, and right fielder Corey Hart participated last season in Anaheim.
So will Fielder add Weeks' name to his lineup?
"Yeah, I think so," Fielder said. "But I can't let it out. I've got to narrow it down. He's in my pool, so I don't know yet.
"I can only pick a couple of my friends. Only my friends that hit the ball far."
Weeks certainly fits that description, as Milwaukee's leadoff hitter has 15 home runs, including a solo shot in Sunday's game -- seven back of Kemp, the NL leader -- and is second among NL second basemen.
Of those 15 homers, Weeks has eight over 400 feet, including a 434-foot blast last month over the left-field bleachers at Wrigley Field and onto Waveland Ave.
Can Weeks' name be penciled in for the Derby?
"I don't know, I've got to be asked," said Weeks, who was then asked if he would agree to participate if asked. "Oh yeah, I'll say yes."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.