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New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso ‘all in’ to defend Home Run Derby title at Coors Field

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CHICAGO – Count New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso in for this year’s Home Run Derby at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Alonso won the contest the last time it was held, in 2019, edging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for his first derby title.

“I’m all in,” Alonso said Thursday afternoon from Wrigley Field, where the Mets finish up a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. “I’m ready. If I get invited, I’d love to do it. I’d love to defend my title.”

Last year’s Home Run Derby was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 edition will take place on July 12 at Colorado’s Coors Field after Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game and related festivities from Atlanta.

Alonso committed to the derby the day after hitting a monster home run that landed on the street beyond the left-center-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. It was measured at 429 feet.

“I’m very happy that ball went far,” Alonso said. “I think Statcast kind of stumped me. I think that ball did not (only) go 429 feet, but that’s what the computer says, and I think the computer is wrong.”

Alonso’s longest home run of his career was measured at 485 feet. He thinks Wednesday’s long ball was closer to that figure than 429 feet.

“If that ball went 429 feet, that’s the shortest ball that’s ever left this stadium,” Alonso said. “I’ve hit plenty of balls here that have gone 430 feet, but if a ball leaves the stadium, there’s no way that ball went only 429 feet.”

Alonso has three home runs this season entering Thursday night’s game against the Cubs. He led the majors with 53 in 2019, his rookie year.

He enjoyed Wednesday’s homer as much as any he’s hit.

“That was one of my favorite home runs I’ve hit,” he said. “That’s top five for me.”

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New York Mets acting GM Zack Scott not thrilled with tunnel mystery, says it was ‘a bigger story than it needs to be’

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NEW YORK — New York Mets acting general manager Zack Scott wasn’t thrilled by Francisco Lindor‘s fuzzy explanation for a dugout dispute Friday night.

Scott said Saturday it was “unfortunate” that Lindor and teammate Jeff McNeil attempted to dismiss their dust-up after the seventh inning by bizarrely claiming they were arguing over a critter spotted in the clubhouse tunnel. Lindor said it was a rat, while McNeil indicated it was a raccoon or a possum.

The disagreement happened out of view of television cameras, but New York’s broadcast showed other players and coaches rushing into the tunnel to break up some sort of commotion.

“You’d have to ask the players why they chose to handle it that way,” Scott said Saturday. “Not how I’d go [about it]. I think what’s unfortunate is it’s a little bit of a bigger story than it needs to be, and it takes away from one of our best wins of the year. That was a great win last night.”

Lindor homered in the seventh on Friday — a half-inning after he and McNeil had a verbal exchange following a miscommunication on an infield single by Nick Ahmed — to key a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

“The rat or possum story is something that our guys were talking about early this afternoon,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said Saturday.

After the apparent clash in the team tunnel, both Lindor and McNeil appeared sullen over the next few innings, before offering smiles during separate postgame videoconferences with reporters in which they insisted their beef was over rodents — and not slow rollers.

Neither Scott nor Mets manager Luis Rojas confirmed the exact parameters of the argument.

“Certainly, it’s something that they didn’t want to get into too much detail about, so I respect that and know kind of the code of the clubhouse,” Scott said. “The one thing I’ll just say generally is not specific to the situation but just broadly: These guys are competitive. They want to win. They are like a family.

“They spend so much time together, and sometimes, like a family, there’s disputes and debates and arguments. At the end of the day, you go out there and grind out a great win and you walk away still brothers.”

The Mets’ comeback from a four-run deficit on Friday was their biggest of the season.

It came amid a week of ups and downs with the club, which won a dramatic, controversial game in Philadelphia on Sunday night, after an overturned home run call that cost the Phillies a tie game. Then a day later, after a loss at the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets fired hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater.

“Today, we’re a better ballclub, and we’re a better family,” Rojas said Saturday. “That’s how I see the events that happened yesterday, just after talking to both players and talking to the group.”

While Scott hoped to move on from the viral vermin story, the entertainment team at Citi Field leaned into it. Shortly before first pitch Saturday night, a new quiz game debuted on the scoreboard, asking fans, “Rat or Raccoon?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. exits after left hand hit by pitch

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ATLANTA — Ronald Acuna Jr., who shares the major league lead with 10 home runs, left the Atlanta Braves‘ game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night after being hit by a pitch.

Acuna was hit on his left hand by a 98 mph fastball from Sam Coonrod in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit Acuna’s little finger on the bottom of the bat.

Acuna fell back, holding his hand in obvious pain. He was immediately escorted off the field.

There was no immediate update from the Braves on Acuna’s injury. He missed two games in April with a mild abdominal strain and is hitting .313.

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Texas Rangers activate slugger Khris Davis from injured list

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Khris Davis was activated from the injured list Saturday by the Texas Rangers, marking the slugger’s first time on their active roster for a game since being acquired in a trade that sent longtime shortstop Elvis Andrus to Oakland.

Davis, an outfielder and designated hitter, opened the season on the injured list because of a left quad strain suffered in a spring training game March 23.

Texas got Davis, catcher Jonah Heim, and a minor league pitcher from the A’s just before spring training Feb. 6 when it sent Andrus to the West Coast. Heim was in the starting lineup for Saturday night’s game against Seattle, but Davis was not.

To make room on the active roster for Davis, outfielder Eli White was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock. After making an opening day roster for the first time in his career, White was hitting .127 with no homers and four RBIs in 20 games this season. He had only one hit his last 30 at-bats over his past 12 games.

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