Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers has pulled out of Monday’s Home Run Derby with a back injury and will be replaced by Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman.
Major League Baseball announced Sunday that Yelich would sit out the Derby in Cleveland, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Yelich leads the majors with 31 home runs but has dealt with back issues at times throughout the first half. Yelich had been practising for the showcase and broke a window on a houseboat outside PNC Park earlier this week while preparing.
Yelich was also voted a starter for Tuesday’s all-star game. It’s unclear if he’ll play.
Chapman will fill-in for the Derby at Progressive Stadium. He was informed Sunday morning and immediately called his father, Jim Chapman, to ask if he would be his pitcher.
Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader is also skipping the all-star game with a back injury.
Derby winner takes home $1M US
Jim Thome holds the record for the longest home run in Progressive Field history, a 511-foot shot against Kansas City in 1999. Two years earlier, the Hall of Fame slugger recorded a more dubious mark during the Home Run Derby.
“I didn’t hit one,” Thome said sheepishly.
The players will take aim at the downtown ballpark’s towering left-field bleachers, which Mark McGwire cleared with a mammoth blast in 1997 that dented a giant Budweiser billboard.
There’s a pedestrian bridge down the line that could see some action, and if the wind is blowing just so to right-centre, it could give Cleveland’s own Carlos Santana an advantage.
Youngest group in event history
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Santana and Chapman will be joined by Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell, Houston’s Alex Bregman, the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr.
It’s the youngest group in derby history, with the 20-year-old Guerrero the baby bopper, and the youngest to compete.
Schneider may be a bit biased, but he believes Guerrero can win it all.
“He can hit the ball so frigging hard,” Schneider said of Guerrero, Jr., who has eight home runs in his first 62 major league games. “I think his chances are as good as anybody in any park, against anyone. All eight of those guys are dynamic, dynamic hitters. I think it’s going to be fun, but I like his chances.”
Guerrero’s odds improved following the withdrawal of Yelich. The rest of the first-round matchups include: Bregman vs. Pederson, Alonso vs. Santana and Bell vs. Acuna.