July 15, 2024

2024 Home Run Derby field set as Dodgers’ Teoscar Hernández claims final spot


PHILADELPHIA — It’s got to be the seeds.

Teoscar Hernández, the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger who has developed a penchant for flinging sunflower seeds when his team hits home runs, will get a crack at smacking some long balls of his own at baseball’s premier showcase for power.

The two-time All-Star outfielder will participate in next week’s Home Run Derby in Arlington, Texas, as announced during ESPN’s broadcast of Wednesday’s game between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Hernández said Dodgers third base coach Dino Ebel will pitch to him in the derby.

Before the broadcast, the Texas Rangers announced outfielder Adolis García’s participation, leaving one spot left for Hernández.

Hernández, 31, has openly petitioned to participate in the event as he caps off a productive first half. He joins a group of commits that includes Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson, Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm, New York’s Pete Alonso, Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr., Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Cleveland’s José Ramírez and García.

“Why not?” Hernández said of the possibility this past weekend. “Obviously, in my career, I wanted to be a part of it. See how it feels. And why not try to go for it and win everything?”

Hernández has 19 home runs, ranking 12th in the majors as he’s enjoyed a bounce-back campaign during his first season in Los Angeles. He’s an All-Star for the second time after a disappointing season with the Seattle Mariners that impacted his free-agent market. After anticipating multiyear offers, he signed with the Dodgers on a deferred one-year, $23.5 million deal.

There likely will be interest in continuing their partnership. Hernández told The Athletic this week he would be interested in signing an extension with the Dodgers, though the two sides have yet to engage in talks.

In the meantime, Hernández has produced a compelling case for his chances in this year’s derby.

“He can punish a baseball,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “If he wants to do it, I’ll put all my chips on him.”

“He wants it,” manager Dave Roberts said, “so hopefully it works out.”

Hernández will be up against a mix of derby first-timers and others with experience. Hernández, Witt, Henderson, Ozuna and Bohm are all participating for the first time. Ramírez participated in 2022 (he lost in the first round to eventual winner Juan Soto) and García participated last year (he lost in the first round to Randy Arozarena).

Alonso has been a mainstay of the event for the last few years, winning in 2019 and 2021.

Last year, Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. beat Arozarena in the final round to win the derby. Guerrero was voted as the starting first baseman for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game and elected to not participate in the derby again.

Ozuna’s participation in the event has been criticized due to his 2021 arrest and subsequent MLB suspension on domestic violence charges. The charges were dropped after he completed a pretrial diversion program which included a 24-week family violence intervention program, psychological assessment and anger management course.

The derby has been a staple of All-Star festivities since the inaugural edition in 1985. This year’s event will be broadcast on ESPN and starts at 8 p.m. ET on July 15.

In addition to bragging rights and a trophy, the winner takes home $1 million.

The Athletic’s Kamila Hinkson contributed to this report.

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(Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)



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