07/12/11 12:16 AM ET
Prince, Weeks not bothered by Derby crowd
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
"Jus-tin Up-ton," the pro-Arizona crowd chanted. And then the chorus of boos would rain down. Again and again and again.
Weeks' Home Run Derby debut was less than ideal in both results and reception, though the Milwaukee All-Star starting second baseman tried his best afterward to discard anything that might have marred his first trip to the Midsummer Classic.
Picked by Brewers teammate and National League Derby captain Prince Fielder -- who bowed out in the competition's second round at Chase Field on Monday -- Weeks became a target for D-backs fans who felt that hometown outfielder Upton should have been included among the league's four participants.
Fielder admitted beforehand that he expected to be heckled, and he wasn't let down either. Not that the response seemed to faze him one bit.
"I didn't pick one of their players," Fielder said. "You expect that. It means he means a lot to them."
Weeks, on the other hand, didn't so much brace for the possibility. It took him some time to realize the reason for the harsh crowd reaction, though by the end of his three-homer first round, Weeks had it figured out.
Asked afterward about his reaction to that of the fans', Weeks quickly said he could have cared less. Yet his ensuing comments suggested otherwise, and his tone hinted that he was at least mildly bothered by the fact that he was not embraced like the other hitters who were putting on a show for those fans.
"Of course, you don't want anybody booing you at an All-Star Game," Weeks said. "Other than that, oh well. I mean, I guess I could understand about it. It is what it is."
Fielder endured his fair share of boos, too, though he did briefly win the crowd over during a spectacular clinic of homers in the swing-off tiebreaker round that thrust him into the semifinals. The reaction required some explaining to his sons, Jadyn and Haven, though, who were on the field alongside their dad.
At one point, they turned to Fielder and asked why the crowd was being so mean.
"They were mad," Fielder said. "They wanted to fight. I had to tell them to call down, that it wasn't personal."
The young boys seemed to enjoy the rest of the festivities, as did Fielder, even though his NL squad was outhomered, 76-19, on the night. And to those Arizona fans who might have hoped that Fielder got their message, he didn't back down on his decision to chose Weeks over Upton. In fact, he'd do it again, he added.
"Pick who you want," said Fielder, the 2009 Derby champ. "If they have a problem, tell the other person they should be captain. They can pick who they want to pick."
Though he left without the Derby crown, Fielder did hit the longest home run on Monday, a 474-foot blast on his first swing of the semifinal round. His most impressive showing, though, came in the five-swing tiebreaker.
Pushed into a tiebreaker after matching David Ortiz's and Matt Holliday's five first-round homers, Fielder advanced to the next round by depositing five straight balls over the right-field fence.
But he never got into a rhythm in the semis. He smacked just four homers in the round, giving him a two-round total of nine. That was well short of the 20-homer performance from the Yankees' Robinson Cano and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez, who advanced to the finals. Cano ended up on top, becoming the 13th different player to win the competition in the past 13 years.
Asked on Monday morning what advice he'd seek out from Fielder, Weeks said he had opted not to take any suggestions from his Brewers teammate.
Perhaps, Weeks should have considered a different pre-competition strategy.
Weeks' round of cuts got off to an inauspicious start when he whiffed on his first swing. He made contact on his second offering and finally lifted a pitch over the left-field wall on his fifth. That home run traveled an estimated 419 feet.
"The first time doing it was a little weird," Weeks said. "It kind of caught me off guard a little bit. As I got going, I got a little acclimated to it."
It took him too long to get comfortable, and Weeks' night was done after he finished the round with only three homers. His longest was a 427-foot blast off the façade of the second deck in left.
"The whole thing was fun," Weeks said. "You see it on TV growing up as a kid and getting the chance to be in a Home Run Derby was cool."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.