Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez: ‘Electric’ derby crowd ‘meant the world to me’

Jul 10, 2023, 8:37 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm

The 2023 MLB Home Run Derby didn’t end with star Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez winning the tournament in front of the hometown fans at T-Mobile Park, but the 22-year-old slugger stole the show for the second year in a row.

Watch: Julio Rodríguez breaks Home Run Derby record in Seattle

Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Gurerro Jr. – who knocked Rodríguez out of the tourney in the second round – wound up winning the Derby, but Rodríguez once again had the baseball world buzzing.

Last year, Rodríguez opened the event up by blasting 32 homers in the first round at Dodger Stadium, then followed with 31 more in the semifinals.

This year in Seattle, Rodríguez again went nuts during the first round, smacking 41 homers out into the seats at T-Mobile Park. That 41 total is a Home Run Derby record for a single round. Rodríguez didn’t know that fact until after the event, when a reporter asked him how it felt to set a new derby record.

“When did you find out you set a record in the first round?” the reporter asked.

“Right now?” a wide-eyed Rodríguez replied.

So how did that feel?

“That’s pretty good,” a nodding Rodríguez said. “I’ll take it.”

Homering in front of Seattle Mariners fans

Last year, Rodríguez was a star down in Los Angeles, home of the Dodgers.

So what was it like to put on a show for a partisan Mariners crowd in Seattle?

“It was electric. Just the fact that I was out here and the home crowd was supporting me and all that, it meant the world to me,” Rodríguez said. “I really enjoyed it and I hope they enjoyed it, too.”

Going out there and destroying the first round had a lot to do with the crowd, too.

“I wanted to live in the moment of being able to give a show to the Mariners fans and just kind of give my all,” Rodríguez said. “And that second round, I was just (tired). But it was fun.”

Rodríguez appeared to be out of gas in that second round. After the record-breaking 41 homers in Round 1, Rodríguez managed just 20 in the semifinals.

“It felt like your mind is there but your body is not. That’s the best way to explain it,” he said of performing in the second round.

Did the crowd live up to the hype energy-wise?

“It definitely did. I was really happy with it and happy with the energy the fans brought,” Rodríguez said.

Those fans will have another chance to cheer on Rodríguez and Mariners teammates George Kirby and Luis Castillo during the actual All-Star Game on Tuesday.

“I’m excited to see them (the fans) again tomorrow,” he said.

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