August 11, 2022

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Lakers’ Ham on commerce buzz: ‘We love our roster’

Juan Soto received $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s value a lot extra....

Juan Soto received $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s value a lot extra.

Shaking off commerce rumors that threatened to sully his All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the House Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in entrance of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.


After not too long ago turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning together with his future doubtful forward of the Aug. 2 commerce deadline. He emerged unbothered. When requested earlier than the Derby whether or not he was going to win it, his reply was characteristically Soto: “In all probability.” And on that prediction he got here by, vanquishing Albert Pujols within the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez within the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto mentioned. “I’ve been going by all these items, and I’m nonetheless right here standing up and with my chin up, on a regular basis. And that reveals you I can undergo something.”


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Something, on this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t probably reply, together with whether or not the Nationals will commerce him earlier than the Aug. 2 deadline or the place he may wind up. Soto as a substitute apprehensive about his highly effective left-handed swing, taking pictures balls to all fields and ending the finals with 19 dwelling runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

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At 23 years, 266 days outdated, Soto turned the second-youngest Derby champion — only a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Till the finals, the Derby had been the most recent episode of the J-Rod Present. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the sphere Monday evening, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 dwelling runs.

The primary hitter of the evening, Rodriguez set the tone for his displaying with 32 dwelling runs in his first-round matchup towards the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager. Then got here Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who received the final two competitions in 2019 and 2021 however mustered solely 23 dwelling runs within the semifinals, properly in need of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then got here his matchup with Soto, towards whom, Rodriguez mentioned, he used to play Name of Obligation video games. Rodriguez was higher at COD. Soto, no less than on Monday, was superior at HRD.


• 2nd-youngest ever HR Derby champion
• 2nd Nationals participant to win (Bryce Harper in 2018)
• 1st Dominican-born participant to win since Robinson Cano in 2011
• Hit the farthest HR (482 ft)
• Hit essentially the most 440-foot HRs (19)

“What did I present the followers?” Rodriguez mentioned. “Who I’m, I suppose. They know a bit bit now.”

Rodriguez, who’s incomes the MLB minimal wage of $700,000 this 12 months, obtained a $500,000 bonus because the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the start, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez within the first spherical and St. Louis Cardinals nice Pujols within the semifinals. Pujols, 42, is in his remaining season — and upset Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, within the first spherical, beating him in an time beyond regulation interval. He couldn’t sustain with Soto, whose 482-foot dwelling run within the first spherical was the longest of the evening.

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“I wasn’t positive if I ought to beat him or let him beat me, however simply the respect — I respect him loads,” Soto mentioned. “Though I beat him on the finish of the day, it’s only a competitors. He is aware of how a lot I’m pleased with him and the way a lot expertise he brings to all of the generations and recommendation that he offers to us.”

No matter Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether or not he’s moved earlier than this deadline or after, he mentioned he would stroll away from this All-Star week positive of 1 factor.

“I can be a House Run Derby champion perpetually,” he mentioned.

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