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All-Star Notebook

Fielder a real tiger in Derby

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 10, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In an all-American League final Monday night, Prince Fielder of the Tigers beat Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, 12-7, in the final round to win the annual Home Run Derby.

Fielder also won in 2009 when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the defending champion, did not hit a single home run.

Cano was booed incessantly by the sellout crowd of 40,351 at Kauffman Stadium and cheered whenever he made outs. The fans were angry that Cano, the AL captain, did not select Kansas City’s Billy Butler to participate in the Derby.

Cano hit 32 home runs in the Derby last season, 12 in the final round.

Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, and National League team captain Matt Kemp also were eliminated in the first round. Kemp, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, hit one home run and did not appear comfortable at the plate.

Once the booing was over, the shaggy-haired Fielder put on a show with his young sons, Jadyn and Haven, watching from the AL dugout. He hit 33 home runs all told, the longest an estimated 476 feet.

Bautista defeated Angels slugger Mark Trumbo in a “swing-off” to advance to the final round.

Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals also advanced to the second round. The event raised $615,000 for charity. The AL won the team competition for the second straight year, 61-21.

Getting a glimpse

Before he signed with the Reds in January 2010 and started a journey that led to the All-Star Game, flame-throwing lefthander Aroldis Chapman threw some pitches in the bullpen at Fenway Park in an attempt to impress the Red Sox.

The session came on Oct. 28, 2009, a cold and rainy day. Edwin Mejia, an agent with Massachusetts roots, represented Chapman at the time and the Red Sox were thought to be one of the favorites to sign the Cuban. Earlier that year, the Red Sox had signed Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias to an $8.5 million deal.

Through an interpreter, Chapman said Monday that the inclement weather kept him from showing what he could really do. He also was still getting used to being a free agent, having come to the US after defecting from Cuba then establishing residence in Europe.

“I didn’t know how things worked at that time. I didn’t know how free I was to do things. I was just getting here in the country and I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t prepared,” Chapman said.

“I had spent a few months in Europe and was never able to get to a baseball field to do anything. I didn’t throw for a long time before that day I got to Boston, maybe once before that day when I went to the field and threw a couple of baseballs.”

Chapman also met with the Yankees that fall. But he ended up accepting a deal from the Reds worth $25.25 million over five years. He has struck out 71 in 39 innings this season and recorded 11 saves.

Chapman doesn’t believe the Red Sox were serious about signing him.

“I never thought they were interested in me,” Chapman said. “Maybe what happened that day, things changed. Either way, I never thought the Red Sox were able to talk to me about being with them.”

Faith in Crawford

Braves outfielder Michael Bourn grew up playing youth baseball with Carl Crawford in Houston and the two remain friends, working out in the offseason and swapping text messages after games on occasion. Bourn believes that Crawford will recover from what have been a rough two seasons with the Red Sox. Crawford hit a career-worst .255 last year and hasn’t played this year because of a variety of injuries. “I think last year may have been a rough time for him at the beginning,” Bourn said. “He got off to a slow start. I think he’ll bounce back. That’s just somebody I believe in, I do. People can say what they want to say about him but I know what kind of player and athlete he is. I’ve been watching him play since he was a little bitty boy. I just think that Boston got a great talent. Things happen sometimes that you can’t control. His wrist, and you can’t really control that elbow wear-and-tear. It was a combination of things that happened. Other than that, you still have the same talented player that’s close to almost 2,000 hits.” . . . One more lineup card for Tony La Russa to fill out. One more chance to put on the uniform. The man who went out on top last fall after leading the Cardinals to an improbable World Series championship, and now is getting a unique encore, swears he doesn’t miss managing. He insists it’s a lot more fun watching the game from the stands or on TV, where he can do all the second-guessing. ‘‘I don’t miss it at all,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘Now, I’m never wrong.’’ That doesn’t mean La Russa, 67, isn’t taking his job as NL manager in the All-Star Game seriously. He unveiled perhaps his biggest decision on Monday, choosing Giants ace Matt Cain to start ahead of Mets 12-game winner R.A. Dickey. The move pairs Cain with teammate Buster Posey, the NL’s starting catcher. The plan calls for Dickey to go second with the Phillies’ Carlos Ruiz, who can get a handle on his knuckleball during warmups. La Russa is just the fourth inactive manager to lead an All-Star team, and the first since Bob Lemon in 1979 after being fired as manager of the Yankees. AL manager Ron Washington chose the Tigers’ Justin Verlander as his starting pitcher.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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