Morneau joins Derby after Final Vote bid falls short
Rockies first baseman returning to city where he spent 11 seasons with Twins
DENVER -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau is going back to Minnesota after all.
Morneau will be the fifth member of Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki's National League squad in the Gillette Home Run Derby, Tulowitzki announced on Thursday night, not long after Morneau lost out in online, text and Twitter voting for a spot in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo beat out Morneau for the final NL spot with a two-day surge in the 2014 MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. The Chicago market dominated the voting. White Sox left-handed pitcher Chris Sale won the AL Final Vote.
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|
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.
The Derby is Monday night at 6 p.m. MT on ESPN, and in Canada on Sportsnet.
But Morneau gives Tulowitzki's NL team experience, in both the Home Run Derby -- as the 2008 Home Run Derby champion at Yankee Stadium -- and in Target Field. Morneau played for the Twins from 2003 until August of last season, when he was traded to the Pirates. In fact, bringing Morneau back to Minneapolis was a key part of Morneau's Final Vote campaign. The Rockies and Indians, who had pitcher Corey Kluber in the Final Vote competition, co-campaigned, and the Twins lobbied their fans hard to bring Monreau back as an All-Star.
This is the third Home Run Derby for Morneau, who totaled 26 homers in his appearances in 2007 and 2008. He defeated Josh Hamilton in the final round in 2008. Tulowitzki and Morneau will become the ninth and 10th different Rockies players to participate in the event, and it'll mark the third straight year a Rockies player has appeared, after Carlos Gonzalez in 2012 and Michael Cuddyer in 2013. Other Rockies to appear are Dante Bichette (1994), Ellis Burks (1996), Larry Walker (1997, 1999), Vinny Castilla (1998), Todd Helton (2001) and Matt Holliday (2007).
Morneau appeared at a voting party in downtown Denver on Thursday and, through the club, thanked all who participated in the Final Vote campaign in two tweets.
"@RockiesPR: Morneau statement on Final Vote, HR Derby: I just want to say thank you to all of the Rockies, Twins and Morneau fans..."- #VoteMorneau (@Rockies) July 10, 2014
"@RockiesPR: Morneau cont'd: Who spent so much time voting. It was a very humbling experience. Thank you. See you at the derby."- #VoteMorneau (@Rockies) July 10, 2014
The rest of Tulowitzki's Derby team is the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, the Reds' Todd Frazier and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.
Morneau was the early Final Vote leader, but Rizzo surpassed him on Wednesday and held the lead in Thursday's voting.
Morneau had been vying to join two teammates in the All-Star Game -- Tulowitzki, the starting shortstop and the leading vote-getter among NL players, and outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was happy Morneau was invited in some capacity.
"I know it means a lot to him," Gardenhire said. "I know he talked about tipping his hat to the fans. Now he has a chance to play in front of the fans so I'm happy for him.
"I wish he would've made the team. I thought that would've been cool to see him on that line. But coming back for the home run contest, there will be a lot of people rooting for him and we all know what he means to this organization."
Unless Morneau is added as an injury replacement, the NL will be without a batter who is at .313 and entered Thursday third in the NL in RBIs with 59 RBIs, behind All-Stars Stanton with 63 and Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs with 61. Morneau has 13 home runs, 20 doubles and two triples, as well as a .346 on-base percentage. Defensively, Morneau leads the league's first basemen in range factor.
The Cubs' Rizzo is second in the NL with 20 home runs, one fewer than Stanton, and is hitting .277 with a .386 on-base percentage, 14 doubles and one triple this season. Defensively, he leads NL first basemen with 75 assists. Rizzo finished with 8.8 million votes. Behind him in the NL vote, in order, were Morneau, the Braves' Justin Upton, the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and the Marlins' Casey McGehee.
Morneau finished ahead of Rizzo on Twitter, on which the five leading candidates had their hashtags trending in the U.S., worldwide and in their local markets, with 52.5 million votes cast. Upton led in Twitter votes followed by the Angels' Garrett Richards, Morneau and Rizzo.
Over the final six hours, the Final Vote campaign averaged 65,000 votes per minute across all platforms.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again allow fans to help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.