Christian Yelich to skip Home Run Derby with back injury

Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers has pulled out of Monday's Home Run Derby with a back injury and will be replaced by Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman.

A's slugger Matt Chapman to replace reigning NL MVP in Monday's showcase

Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich will sit out Monday'S Home Run Derby in Cleveland because of a back injury. The reigning NL MVP, who leads the majors with 31 home runs, will replaced by Oakland slugger Matt Chapman. (Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers has pulled out of Monday's Home Run Derby with a back injury and will be replaced by Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman.

Major League Baseball announced Sunday that Yelich would sit out the Derby in Cleveland, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Yelich leads the majors with 31 home runs but has dealt with back issues at times throughout the first half. Yelich had been practising for the showcase and broke a window on a houseboat outside PNC Park earlier this week while preparing.

Yelich was held out of Milwaukee's lineup Sunday at Pittsburgh for its final game before the all-star break. Manager Craig Counsell said the absence wasn't due to injury, but because the team "felt we were at the red line with him" from a workload standpoint.

Yelich was also voted a starter for Tuesday's all-star game. It's unclear if he'll play.

Chapman will fill-in for the Derby at Progressive Stadium. He was informed Sunday morning and immediately called his father, Jim Chapman, to ask if he would be his pitcher.

Chapman will be a first-time all-star after hitting 21 homers and an American League-leading 46 extra-base hits.

Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader is also skipping the all-star game with a back injury.

Derby winner takes home $1M US

Jim Thome holds the record for the longest home run in Progressive Field history, a 511-foot shot against Kansas City in 1999. Two years earlier, the Hall of Fame slugger recorded a more dubious mark during the Home Run Derby.

"I didn't hit one," Thome said sheepishly.

It's a safe bet that none of the eight participants in this year's field will get blanked Monday night as some of baseball's biggest bats swing for the fences while vying for $1 million US - the richest winning prize in the popular event's 34-year history.

The players will take aim at the downtown ballpark's towering left-field bleachers, which Mark McGwire cleared with a mammoth blast in 1997 that dented a giant Budweiser billboard.

There's a pedestrian bridge down the line that could see some action, and if the wind is blowing just so to right-centre, it could give Cleveland's own Carlos Santana an advantage.

Youngest group in event history

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Santana and Chapman will be joined by Pittsburgh's Josh Bell, Houston's Alex Bregman, the Dodgers' Joc Pederson, New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso and Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr.

Matt Chapman of the Athletics will replaced the injured Christian Yelich in Monday eveninG'S Home Run Derby in Cleveland. Chapman entered play Sunday with 21 homers this season and an AL-leading 46 extra-base hits. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

It's the youngest group in derby history, with the 20-year-old Guerrero the baby bopper, and the youngest to compete.

He has been working with Blue Jays coach John Schneider, who knows Vladdy's sweet spot better than anyone. Schneider threw batting practice to Guerrero for two years in the minor leagues.

Schneider may be a bit biased, but he believes Guerrero can win it all.

"He can hit the ball so frigging hard," Schneider said of Guerrero, Jr., who has eight home runs in his first 62 major league games. "I think his chances are as good as anybody in any park, against anyone. All eight of those guys are dynamic, dynamic hitters. I think it's going to be fun, but I like his chances."

Guerrero's odds improved following the withdrawal of Yelich. The rest of the first-round matchups include: Bregman vs. Pederson, Alonso vs. Santana and Bell vs. Acuna.


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