Alonso will go to the HR Festival; Vlad Jr. declines to attend

New York Mets slugger Pete alonso announced Wednesday that he will defend his Colorado Home Run Festival title on July 12 but the Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who fell within a home run in 2019, said Wednesday that he will not participate in the event.

Guerrero, who is tied for the major league lead with 23 home runs, told reporters that he wanted to “take care of myself physically and mentally” to stay fresh during the second half of the season.

“I feel good physically,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Everything is going well. There is still a long way to go. I just want it to stay that way.”

Alonso won the Festival the last time it was held, in 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Alonso surpassed the Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by a score of 23-22 in the final round to capture the Derby title.

There was no Derby last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 26-year-old Alonso has 11 home runs this season but has three career home runs in six games at Coors Field in Denver.

“I had a lot of fun during the first one, so I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s do it again,'” he told reporters Wednesday. “I had a great time. It’s a really special moment, and as long as I get the chance to do it, I want to do it. Because it’s something I always dreamed of when I was a kid. … It was a dream come true.”

Alonso had his cousin, Derek Morgan, pitch to him in the 2019 Derby, but instead, he will have Mets bench coach Dave Jauss as his pitcher this year, he said.

First base will join to the double-track star of the Los Angeles Angels Shohei ohtani, who shares the MLB lead with 23 home runs this season with Guerrero, who will not participate in this year’s Festival.

Alonso said Wednesday that Ohtani looks “like he’s drinking stupid juice.”

“You can take it over the fence in pretty much any stadium, so it will be fun,” he told reporters.

Vlad Jr. said he decided not to attend this year’s event after consulting with his father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.

The youngest of the Guerrero family said he will be in the Derby as a spectator.

“I’m thinking of taking my camera with the microphone on to record everything, enjoy the moment and support the rest of the guys,” he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in the report.