Seager bringing rookie power to Home Run Derby

Seager bringing rookie power to Home Run Derby

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers rookie shortstop Corey Seager will meet Baltimore's Mark Trumbo in the first round of tonight's T-Mobile Home Run Derby in San Diego.

The 22-year-old Seager, the youngest Dodgers position player to be named to an All-Star team, leads the club with 17 home runs, only five shy of the single-season best he set last year, when he hit 18 at Triple-A and four during a September callup to the Major Leagues.

Seager said he's been excited about competing in the Derby since a Players Association rep approached him with the possibility a few weeks ago. Seager said he's flying in his parents from North Carolina and his father will be his pitcher.

As an organization, the Dodgers are vocally supportive of Seager, although also apprehensive because of the widespread belief that some players (especially young ones) have a harmful carryover effect into the second half when they alter their swing path for the Home Run Derby.

Although teammate Joc Pederson had already begun his offensive tailspin before he finished second to Todd Frazier in the competition last year, many link the severity of his second-half collapse to the Home Run Derby. Seager said he's more concerned about being shut out than any lasting effect the Derby will have.

"If it messes up your swing," Seager said, "you can figure it out later."

Manager Dave Roberts was asked if he'd prefer Seager not participate.

"I'm not going to admit that," Roberts said. "If Corey wants to be in the Home Run Derby, we're going to wish him well. You look at what happened to Joc last year, to Todd Frazier, I don't know the numbers of guys that have come out of it just fine. I'm going to root for Corey. I'm going to root for my guy.

"Corey's swing is his swing. One little bit of thought is, you liken it to three-point shooting. We watched Larry Bird, and he expended very little effort. Corey uses the lower half a lot, and it is a lot of effort. [Robinson] Cano or [Josh] Hamilton, they can just flick of the wrist. But Corey wants to do it, and regardless of the results, he'll continue to get hits for us."

Seager will be the seventh rookie to compete in the Derby, joining California's Wally Joyner (1986), Oakland's Jose Canseco (1986) and Mark McGwire (1987), Mike Piazza of the Dodgers (1993), and Kris Bryant (2015) and Anthony Rizzo (2015) of the Chicago Cubs.

Here's how this year's Derby will work.

The players were seeded one through eight based on home runs totals through Wednesday. As the top seed, Trumbo takes on No. 8 Seager in the first round, with the winner of that head-to-head battle facing the winner of No. 4 Robinson Cano and No. 5 Giancarlo Stanton in the semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 3 seed Adam Duvall faces No. 6 Wil Myers and No. 2 Frazier meets No. 7 Carlos Gonzalez in the first round.

The winners of those two dinger duels will meet in the other semi. Then the last two sluggers standing hack for the hardware in the final round.

And now for the rules:

• Single-elimination tournament in which the winner of each matchup advances and the loser of each matchup is eliminated.

• If the second batter hits more home runs than the first batter in any matchup, he will be declared the winner and not attempt to hit additional home runs.

• Four minutes per batter for each round. Clock starts with the release of the first pitch. In the first round and semifinals, each batter is entitled to one 45-second "time out." In the finals, each batter is entitled to two 45-second "time-outs."

• Thirty seconds of bonus time will be awarded for two home runs that each equal or exceed 440 feet.

• Ties in any round will be broken by a 60-second swing-off with no stoppage of time or additional time added. If a tie remains after the swing-off, batters will engage in successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.

Derby coverage will begin at 5 p.m. PT on Monday on ESPN, and will be simulcast on MLB.com.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.