Jones to take part in his first Derby for AL
O's outfielder accepts invitation from captain Bautista, and Buck approves
WASHINGTON -- Adam Jones is getting his wish -- he will compete in the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby.
Just last week, Jones, who will start for the American League in the All-Star Game, wondered why he had never been invited. He has the power numbers for it and he certainly has the swing, but until this year, he never had his chance to showcase his talents on the national stage.
Home Run Derby participants
|RF||Jose Bautista, TOR (Captain)|
|3B||Josh Donaldson, OAK|
|2B||Brian Dozier, MIN|
|CF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|LF||Yoenis Cespedes, OAK*||National League|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki, COL (Captain)|
|3B||Todd Frazier, CIN|
|1B||Justin Morneau, COL|
|RF||Yasiel Puig, LAD|
|RF||Giancarlo Stanton, MIA|
"We all know that Adam swings hard anyway," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Jones had an invite from AL captain Jose Bautista. Next, he had to seek his manager's approval.
"He came in, asked me what I thought," Showalter said. "I said, 'What do you want to do?'"
"I think I'd like to do it," Jones responded.
And so Jones will travel to Minneapolis not just for the All-Star Game. He will compete alongside Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes and Twins second baseman Brian Dozier on Monday at Target Field at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN) against a team led by Troy Tulowitzki that already features Todd Frazier, Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig.
There is one unclaimed spot in each league. Those announcements will come Thursday.
Even with the already star-studded roster, Jones knows he can put on a show. During the past two years, he's done his share of that, anyway. In 2012, he interrupted ESPN's broadcast and chowed down on some Kansas City barbecue. Last year, the outfielder was mic'd up and brought his own championship belt to give to the winner. That's part of why it never made sense that he couldn't land an invite.
"I would win it," Jones said.
A new format has been installed for this year's Derby, as the five players from each league will receive seven outs instead of the usual 10 in each round. In the first round, the player who hits the most homers in each league will receive an automatic bye to the third round (semifinals). The next two players from each league with the most homers will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round, with the two winners advancing to the semifinals against the league's top performer from the first round.
The final round will be a showdown between the AL and NL's best. If necessary, the first tiebreaker would allow the finalists three swings apiece.
One Baltimore outfielder who won't be competing, though, is Nelson Cruz. Jones' teammate hit his Major League-leading 28th home run during Monday's win at Nationals Park, but Showalter confirmed that he won't compete again. Cruz hit 21 home runs in the 2009 Derby and finished second to Prince Fielder.
Cruz, like most who decline invitations, was worried that competing would affect his swing. That shouldn't be the case with Jones.
"That is his swing," Showalter said. "If I had to pick one of the two guys to do it I'd pick Jones. You can get hurt or get tired going through the parking lot. You have to make adjustments."
That said, Showalter doesn't want Jones to tire himself out too much before he starts in the All-Star Game the following day. With the O's in first place in the AL East, that game could have long-term consequences for the club, since the winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
"I'm proud he's getting his chance," Showalter said. "I just want him to really understand that we hope he wins that game and it's a big deal."
If you can't wait for the actual Derby, the MLB.com Home Run Derby mobile game is a good way to immerse yourself in the action immediately, with Target Field serving as the setting. The game is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. New for 2014 is Multiplayer Derby Mode, Achievements and Objectives.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.