Mariners All-Star Julio Rodriguez announces he’ll take part in MLB Home Run Derby

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Julio Rodriguez readies himself as he comes up to bat during a game against the Oakland Athletics, July 2, 2022 in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)

WASHINGTON — Since the day he was named to the American League All-Star team, Julio Rodriguez was coy about whether he would participate in the home run derby.

His response to questions about it often came with an impish smile: “We’ll see.”

We’ll see him Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

On Wednesday afternoon, after serving his one-game suspension in the opening game of a split doubleheader vs. the Nationals, Rodriguez announced via his social media accounts with a produced video, featuring Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson, that he will indeed participate in the Home Run Derby.

His curiosity in the event was piqued when it was first mentioned during the road trip in San Diego.

“I had some interest to participate,” he said. “It’s great to see it’s official and I’m gonna make it happen.”

His strategy?

“I’m gonna go for homers, man,” he said.

He plans to have a scout for a training academy that he worked in the Dominican Republic as a teenager throw to him.

He’ll join a field that includes two-time defending champion Pete Alonso of the Mets, Ronald Acuna of the Braves, Juan Soto of the Nationals, Kyle Schawarber of the Phillies, Albert Pujols of the Cardinals and Jose Ramirez of the Guardians. There is one more spot available in the eight-player bracket.

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez remembered watching the Home Run Derby on television and seeing Robinson Cano with his father, Jose, pitching to him, win the derby in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” he said. “That memory sticks to me.”

After going homerless over his first 20 games of his MLB career, Rodriguez hit his first homer on May 1 in Miami and has hit 14 more since.

While the coaches love that he takes a mature batting practice each day, not focusing on homers, Rodriguez knows he can hit his fair share.

“During the season, you get ready for the game,” he said. “You’re not trying to put on a show and hit home runs. You get ready for a game. That’s what I do every day during my BP, but I feel like I’m Dominican and I’m still trying out. So if I got to hit home runs, I’m going to hit home runs.”

Given his status as one of the up and coming future stars in the game, and with a unique charisma and joy that few possess on a baseball field, it was a given that Major League Baseball would want him to participate.

Rodriguez is the seventh player in Mariners history to participate in the home run derby and the first Mariners player to take part in the event since Cano in 2016. Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who participated in home run derby seven times, is the only Mariners player to win the event. He won it in 1994, 1998 and 1999.

Asked about Julio Rodriguez hitting in the Home Run Derby, Mariners manager Scott Servais replied. “It’s Julio. I’m sure he’ll do well and he’ll represent the Mariners very well.”

It’s his world, isn’t it?

Servais: “We’re just a part of it. We’re just along for the ride.”

The 2022 T-Mobile Home Run Derby will start Monday at 5 p.m. on ESPN. On Thursday at 4 p.m. ESPN will televise the bracket show.

Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or; . Ryan Divish covers the Mariners in Seattle and on the road. Look for his 'Extra Innings' podcast and weekly Sunday mailbag during the season.