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July 13, 2015
KARL RAVECH: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to our 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby, as presented by Head & Shoulders. As you can see, the Home Run Derby participants are on the stage. Anthony Rizzo is down at that end. He's sitting next to Josh Donaldson. This year a new format: It's a bracket format. Those two will go head to head. These two, Todd Frazier and Prince Fielder go head to head. Manny Machado and Joc Pederson go against each other, and Kris Bryant and Albert Pujols go against each other. It's a single-elimination bracket play. There's no carryover. If Anthony hits four and Josh hits five, it ends. Josh wins that round and plays the winner of this one. If Anthony hits seven and Josh hits six, Josh is eliminated. So it's not to play favorites with Anthony or Josh. There are other rules: There's a five-minute timed round. In the first four minutes, the clock is running. In the last minute, if they hit a home run, the clock stops. It will not start again until they fail to hit another home run. That's what we can get into what we've seen in years past, with taking a little breather, walking around, waiting for the perfect pitch. Some of these rules could be tweaked based on the weather. I'm not sure if anybody has been outside the hotel lobby, but in the last hour or so, it looked like Cincinnati was being washed away. The good news is we have consulted the premiere weather guy, Jim Cantore, who loves when it looks like the world is ending. He says we're going to get the Derby in. I'm going to ask one question of each participant, then we'll open it up to you. They have no idea what the weather is going to be like. Any rule questions, you can address to me. It's simple. We'll start by leading things off with the guy who is going to lead off. It came as a surprise to him a few minutes ago, Anthony Rizzo. His reaction was interesting, to say the least. So 12 of your 16 home runs have gone to right center. There's a big river out there. I think rather than ask if you're thinking about the river, this idea that you're hitting first. When I told you that, what did you start to think?
ANTHONY RIZZO: I was going to watch and try to figure out some strategy to see how this new format is.
KARL RAVECH: You don't have that option.
ANTHONY RIZZO: Now I'm going to wing it and have a good time. Swing, probably swing a lot. I've taken batting practice here a lot. You don't have to hit the ball as hard as you want. My adrenaline is going to be running, but going to try to control it and try to hit line drives.
KARL RAVECH: This is new rules. You're the guy. You're the guinea pig. You're the ground breaker.
ANTHONY RIZZO: Hopefully, I could hit a few home runs early and start letting loose. But just really have a good time with it.
KARL RAVECH: Breathe.
ANTHONY RIZZO: Breathe. A lot of breathing.
KARL RAVECH: Josh Donaldson, you'll go up against Anthony Rizzo. No Blue Jay player has ever won a Derby. So regardless of that fact, what's your game plan going into this, Josh?
JOSH DONALDSON: My game plan is to hit home runs.
KARL RAVECH: How many do you need to hit?
JOSH DONALDSON: One more than Rizzo.
KARL RAVECH: You've done this before. What did you learn from your first experience?
JOSH DONALDSON: I would just tell them I wasn't that nervous going into my first Home Run Derby last year. After the first pitch, I almost missed it and I quickly realized what was I doing. So hopefully, this year I won't foul one back and maybe not swing and miss. So maybe I'll hit about ten.
KARL RAVECH: Ten. Double digits. All right. Let's get to Prince Fielder here, who has won this event a couple of times. 68 career home runs you have in the Derby, and this year, I think we've all noticed that you seem to be back to not only your abilities, but your personality. So how will that, do you think, translate into the next Home Run Derby today?
PRINCE FIELDER: I'm not sure. Hopefully it works out good.
KARL RAVECH: I asked somebody on the walk over here if you had some guy to pick, this ballpark seems to, and Todd we'll ask in a little bit, favor a power left-handed hitter. Is this a good ballpark for a left-handed hitter? I get the sense it's a good ballpark for anybody. How about yourself?
PRINCE FIELDER: Yeah, it is. It's real nice.
KARL RAVECH: River?
PRINCE FIELDER: Yeah, nice and short, so it's all good.
KARL RAVECH: The idea you've won these before and Griffey have won three of them, did you know that?
PRINCE FIELDER: I didn't know that.
KARL RAVECH: So tonight could be number three.
PRINCE FIELDER: Yeah.
KARL RAVECH: You have to deal that guy (pointing to Frazier).
PRINCE FIELDER: I know. He's the favorite.
KARL RAVECH: He's the favorite?
PRINCE FIELDER: Yeah, I mean, should be.
TODD FRAZIER: The hometown guy, I guess. I don't know. Playing against one of the best. We'll see what happens.
KARL RAVECH: When you found out you were facing one of the best, in your home park, what did that feel like?
TODD FRAZIER: It wasn't fun, I'll tell you that. But any of these guys, they're all home-run hitters and it's going to be a lot of fun to watch either way. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a battle. Facing him in the first round will be tough.
KARL RAVECH: We asked Prince about the ballpark that he plays at at home. He says the jet stream to right in Texas isn't there anymore.
PRINCE FIELDER: It's not.
KARL RAVECH: Is there a jet stream here? Is there a part of the park that you can hit it to more easily?
TODD FRAZIER: I think the whole park, you can pretty much get it out just by putting on a good swing. Wind in or not, it's a good home-run park, bottom line. It's going to be a lot of fun watching these balls going, especially with the left-handers, Rizzo, Joc and Prince. We're going to see a lot of exciting -- people are going to be on the streets waiting for a couple balls.
KARL RAVECH: Or in a boat in the river. Adam Dunn hit a ball in the river; the only guy to do that.
TODD FRAZIER: I wasn't there for that, but I heard that ball is still going.
KARL RAVECH: On this left side here, Manny Machado, Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant and Albert Pujols. There's a couple of first timers here, which is obviously a neat thing. One of the things about the All-Star Game is having the multiple first-time rookie players. We've got a couple of rookies in the Derby. Manny, you're not a rookie, but you're facing a guy. Tell us about your experience. When you think big, home run long balls, trying to buy 90 extra seconds if you can, that doesn't sort of fit your bill. How does the Home Run Derby fit Manny Machado?
MANNY MACHADO: Just try to hit it 300 feet. That's all I got to do. I see this guy over here, and hitting those balls, so my mentality is just going in there, just trying to hit it over the fence, not do too much and overall just enjoy yourself, you know.
KARL RAVECH: It feels like there's lot of pressure on these pitchers, like we can't take pitches when the clock is running. Is that something that you're aware of and have discussed with your pitcher?
MANNY MACHADO: Yeah. We have. We're going to have to see how Rizzo does first. He goes first, see what type of strategy to go in there and go with the flow, you know.
KARL RAVECH: Hi, Joc. So Cincinnati, you've done it. Clearly, you've got the whole L.A. thing working. Everybody loves the outfit today. You seem very comfortable here. First Home Run Derby. Have you done Home Run Derbies Prior to this? You haven't?
JOC PEDERSON: Number one. Never in the minor leagues.
KARL RAVECH: High school, never?
JOC PEDERSON: I didn't hit homers in high school.
KARL RAVECH: Does your high leg kick, have you practiced for this at all? Does it favor a Home Run Derby? Are you looking forward to it? If so, why?
JOC PEDERSON: Every day in batting practice is a Home Run Derby. I'm just looking forward to the experience and just going to try and hit some balls.
KARL RAVECH: Where is the perfect pitch for Joc Pederson to hit? Where are we looking to see the ball being delivered?
JOC PEDERSON: Somewhere up. Swing hard so I can hit it.
KARL RAVECH: We had Kris Bryant on Baseball Tonight earlier. We were talking your double digit home runs don't really match Albert's triple digits with the five in front of us. When you found out you were going up against Albert, what was that like?
KRIS BRYANT: Uh-oh. I don't know. I was just excited. I mean, I grew up watching this guy. His unbelievable career. I just look forward to having a lot of fun with him tonight, the rest of the guys and hit some long homers.
KARL RAVECH: Have you at all prepared for the format, once you knew what it was like? Did you think about it? Did you go into batting practice or do anything? Minus a cage, five-minute clock? Did you do anything to prepare for it?
KRIS BRYANT: Me and Anthony took BP on the field without the net over our head, just to get the feeling. In terms of the timing, no. Thankfully Anthony is going first. I think just taking a couple pitches here and there, not wear yourself out. Swing a lot.
KARL RAVECH: Swing a lot, yeah. All right, Albert, 546 career home runs and you've done this before. You've got 15 home runs since June 1st. Yet, you're looking around, there's a lot of babies here. Does being a veteran help you in this?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Not really. I mean, obviously, the first three times that I've done it, I had a great time and I think I did pretty well.
KARL RAVECH: Yes.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Pretty much, new season, new All-Star and you want to go out and hopefully hit as many home runs as I can for the fans and hopefully move on to the next round.
KARL RAVECH: You made it pretty clear, you wanted to do this. Why did you want to do this?
ALBERT PUJOLS: I had a great time every time. I did it in '03, '07, 2009 in St. Louis. I enjoy it. We're talking about batting practice to me. I take it like it is batting practice, and don't try to do too much. And try to have fun with it. You don't get to -- I mean, I missed four All-Stars, this is my first since 2010. I enjoy every single one. To be back here and do it for the fans and for my family and the people who support me is awesome. So I'm just going to try to have a good time and hopefully I've got a chance to advance.
KARL RAVECH: Those are the eight. Anybody in the audience have any questions? We have a microphone here.
Q. Albert, please, can you answer in Spanish? What does it mean to you this Home Run Derby, especially when you have long time that you don't have any participation in the All-Star Game?
ALBERT PUJOLS: (Answer in Spanish).
Q. Todd, we know how excited you are for the Home Run Derby. You've talked openly all year about getting back to this moment. Are you worried about the weather? How much is this messing with your head, knowing this thing is kind iffy at this point? How much do you want this to happen despite what's going on outside?
TODD FRAZIER: You're always worried about the weather but you can't control it basically. It seems like this whole year when I've been playing at home, been playing in a lot of rain delays and some sprinkles here and there. Once that goes away, it gets a little humid and then the ball flies even more. So hopefully, it will start dying down pretty soon so we can hopefully get some batting practice outside. If not, get in the cage and start swinging. I don't like hitting in the cage that much. We'll see how that bodes well for anybody.
Q. This is for the three 23-year-olds, Manny, Joc and Kris: Do you recall watching Prince win this the two times? If so, did you sort of marvel at his power when he won?
MANNY MACHADO: I think I was in high school when he won it. Yeah, I remember him dropping bombs, that back leg power swing. So it's just an honor to be around these guys, Prince, who won it, Pujols as well. Frazier, all these guys have been in it before. It's just an honor to be here in the same group as these guys.
KARL RAVECH: Kris or Joc, do you remember watching Prince?
JOC PEDERSON: Yeah ^ , impressive every time you git to see him swing. He puts on a show. So like Manny said, it's an honor to be here in the presence of some of these great hitters. Just going to enjoy this time.
KARL RAVECH: Is this where you say, you know, I'm in the room. Kris?
KRIS BRYANT: I don't think I remember watching him particularly. I think I remember watching his kids during the derby. But yeah, I mean, obviously he's been fun to watch. I think I got him for longest homer tonight. So should be a fun show.
KARL RAVECH: The question was, do Prince and Albert feel the pressure of the younger guys up here?
PRINCE FIELDER: Sure, yeah. They all have great power. They're younger, like you said. They're fresh. Al, he called us old. They're fresh and ready to go. They have great power and it's going to be a great show.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Same way. We're all here, we're all blessed to be part of this All-Star Game and we're just going to try to have a great time. These guys are great hitters for a reason. We're just going to go out there and put a show on. Hopefully, one of us is going to win at the end of the night. So just hopefully everybody can put on a good show out there for the fans. At the end of the day, that's why we're doing it.
KARL RAVECH: I want to remind everybody as well that the Gillette Home Run Derby, presented by Head & Shoulders, will once again raise funds for Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, the RBI program. Head & Shoulders will make a donation: Every home run hit into the Flake-Free Zone, sections 401-406, in Round 1 will earn $1,000, $5,000 in the second round and $10,000 in the final round.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports