"It's something that I've dealt with in my career since I can remember. You've just got to kind of wear it for a couple of days and then it hardens up and you're good to go."
Citi Field opened in 2009 with a cavernous outfield and yielded the fewest home runs in the majors over its first three seasons, according to STATS. But the Mets erected a new fence in front of the old one, dubbed the Great Wall of Flushing, before last season. That trimmed dimensions by up to 12 feet and lowered the height of the wall from as high as 16 feet to 8 all around.
Since then, the ballpark has ranked closer to the middle of the pack in home runs, 18th out of 30. But it's still no hitter's haven. In fact, hometown favorite David Wright had joked he would take his Derby swings from second base.
Cespedes, however, and most of the other sluggers had little trouble clearing the old wall. When they got good wood, it was long gone.
"This stadium may be very difficult, but it's not as difficult as Oakland. And if I can do it in Oakland, I thought, why can't I do it here?" Cespedes said.
Wright and another hometown darling, Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, were both eliminated in the first round. Alvarez went to high school in New York City and grew up in the same Manhattan neighborhood as Manny Ramirez.
Wright managed five home runs as the sellout crowd of 43,558 chanted "Let's Go Mets!"
"I ran out of gas," he said.
Also knocked out early were defending champion Prince Fielder, the only player besides Ken Griffey Jr. to win multiple times, and American League captain Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, who made Cespedes his final pick.
NOTES: Cespedes' home run total matched Ortiz (2010) and Cano (2011) for the third-highest behind Bobby Abreu (41 in 2005) and Josh Hamilton (35 in 2008). ... Davis was credited with the longest drive of the night at 502 feet. ... Oakland third base coach Mike Gallego pitched to Cespedes, who averaged 405 feet on his home runs. He became the first A's player to participate in the Derby since Jason Giambi in 2001 and joined Mark McGwire (1992) as the team's only winners. "Before I left, they asked me to bring home the trophy," Cespedes said. ... The American League topped the NL 53-50. ... Cano showed up at the afternoon news conference in a snappy suit. Harper was in a T-shirt, mesh shorts, sneakers and his spiky mohawk. At least he was dressed in blue and orange, Mets colors. ... By hitting 103 home runs in all, the sluggers raised $529,000 for charity.
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