The Boston Red Sox have five players headed to Denver for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, but none participating in the Home Run Derby.
If they had a representitive in the home run contest, there would be no better choice than Rafael Devers. The 24-year-old slugger leads the team with 21 homers and ranks near the top of the league in barrel percentage, average exit velocity, and average home run distance.
Apparently, Major League Baseball agrees Devers in the derby would have been fun to watch. Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed Thursday on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" that the league asked Devers to participate, but the third baseman declined.
"I think they asked Raffy (Devers). I'm not sure, because that's between MLB and the Players Association. He declined. He feels like he's not a home run hitter in BP," Cora said.
Cora added he's interested to see how players at the Home Run Derby react to the altitude at Coors Field. Asked whether he would encourage or discourage his players from participating in the derby, he made it clear he would have loved to watch Devers in the competition.
"I wanted Raffy to do it," Cora said. "Obviously, he got voted by the fans [for the All-Star Game]. To be part of this, people will know who Raffy Devers is. But I understand why not, and you respect that decision."
While it won't include Devers, this year's Home Run Derby lineup is stacked. The bracket was unveiled Wednesday with Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), Juan Soto (Washington Nationals), Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers), Trevor Story (Colorado Rockies), Matt Olson (Oakland Athletics), Trey Mancini (Baltimore Orioles), Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals) and Pete Alonso (New York Mets) participating.
The Home Run Derby is scheduled for Monday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET. The All-Star Game will take place the following night at the same time with Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes representing Boston.