Aguilar, Harper, Muncy highlight HR Derby field

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Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar leads seven first-time participants in this year’s Home Run Derby, which will be contested Monday night at Nationals Park in Washington. The seven newcomers will be joined by Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who is the second seed behind Aguilar.

Aguilar will face Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins, the eighth seed, in the first round.

Harper will face Atlanta Braves first baseman and No. 7 seed Freddie Freeman in the opening round. Harper lost to Yoenis Cespedes in the 2013 final at Citi Field in New York.

“It should be fun. I’m hoping the fans are excited for him and he gets nervous and gets a zero,” said Freeman, the top NL vote-getter for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. “But we’ll see what happens.”

The other two first-round pairings are Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, the third seed, against No. 6 seed and Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez, and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman (seeded fourth) vs. Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, the fifth seed.

Baez and Schwarber are the 18th pair of teammates to enter the same Derby. The Cubs also had two players in the competition in 2015 when Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo competed in Cincinnati.

The inclusion of Muncy gives the Dodgers a Derby participant for the fifth consecutive year. The 27-year-old Muncy has 21 homers this season in his first major league action since he hit two homers in 51 games with Oakland in 2016.

Another potential entrant, Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, was invited to participate in Monday’s home-run contest. However, the 25-year-old, who was voted a starter for the second straight year, declined a chance to take his cuts against Harper and others next week in Washington.

“I sat down with the team and we made a decision, all of us together, and we just decided it wasn’t the best thing for me to do at this time,” Ramirez said after homering twice and driving in five runs in the Indians’ 19-4 rout of the Reds on Wednesday night. “It’s a long season. I’m a player that plays every day and I need to save energy for the second half and, God willing, the playoffs as well.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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