LEADING OFF: Ohtani swings in HR Derby; will he start, too?

Sports

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani watches his solo home run during the third inning of the team’s baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, July 9, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Monday:

MILE HIGH MASHERS

The Shohei Ohtani Show at Coors Field starts with the All-Star Home Run Derby, with fans wondering how far the Angels’ two-way sensation and other sluggers can hit the ball in Denver’s thin air.

Ohtani leads the majors with 33 home runs, his most recent blast being a titanic, upper-deck drive in Seattle over the weekend. He is the top-seeded contestant in an eight-player field that also includes 2019 champ Pete Alonso, Juan Soto, Matt Olson, Trey Mancini, Joey Gallo, Salvador Perez and local favorite Trevor Story of the Rockies.

Olson warmed up for the competition by launching two home runs for the A’s on Sunday. Mancini had a pinch-hit homer for Baltimore.

The last time the All-Star Game was at Coors, during the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa homer chase in the summer of 1998, Ken Griffey Jr. won the Derby by topping Jim Thome in a matchup for future Hall of Famers. McGwire hit the longest ball of the exhibition, a drive marked at 510 feet, but didn’t make it out of the first round.

FOR STARTERS

The starting lineups for the All-Star Game will be announced, and there’s plenty of speculation about who will be on the mound.

Zack Wheeler could end up pitching for the National League, throwing to Phillies teammate J.T. Realmuto. Fans in Denver are hoping it’ll be Rockies right-hander German Marquez, who threw seven shutout innings against San Diego on Saturday.

On the AL side, Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is generating more heat than any player in the majors this season. Picked for the game as a pitcher and hitter, he’s 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts. Other pitchers, such as White Sox teammates Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodón, have better stats, but the allure of Ohtani on a worldwide stage is huge.

TIME OFF

The All-Star break will give pitcher Aaron Nola and three other Philadelphia players time to clear up after being put on the COVID-19 injured list.

Nola was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday at Boston. Third baseman Alec Bohm was put on the list after testing positive, the Phillies said. Right-handed pitcher Connor Brogdon and left-hander Bailey Falter are out because of contact tracing, the Phillies said.

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