South Atlantic League sluggers to launch from aircraft carrier

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South Atlantic League stadiums have had a hard time containing the league’s top power hitters at the annual home run derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities.

The USS Yorktown, stationed in Charleston Harbor, will be the site of the first portion of the South Atlantic League home run derby June 18. The finals of the derby will take place at Joseph P. Riley Park prior to the All-Star Game.  PATRIOTS POINT
PATRIOTS POINT
The USS Yorktown, stationed in Charleston Harbor, will be the site of the first portion of the South Atlantic League home run derby June 18. The finals of the derby will take place at Joseph P. Riley Park prior to the All-Star Game.

Perhaps the ocean will be a more proper venue.

The Charleston RiverDogs, host team for the 2012 South Atlantic League All-Star Game, announced last week that a portion of this year’s home run derby will take place on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

“This is for the preliminary round,” league president Eric Krupa said. “That will be Monday, and then Tuesday night will be a condensed finals version back in the ballpark.”

The USS Yorktown, stationed in Charleston Harbor, will welcome the league’s top 10 sluggers on Monday, June 18 at 11 a.m. for the first half of the home run derby, according to a statement released by the RiverDogs.

Five home run hitters from the league’s Southern and Northern divisions will each get 10 swings in an inflatable batting cage for an opportunity to launch home run balls into the harbor.

The team said hired hands will use kayaks and jet skis to retrieve the batted balls, ensuring no sea life will be harmed during the event, which will be surpervised by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The statement said the Coast Guard will determine the length of each batted ball and radio in the results. The top four home run hitters will move on to the finals at Joseph P. Riley Park the following day at 5:15 p.m. as part of pregame festivities before the All-Star Game.

The USS Yorktown, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that served in World War II, has a length of 888 feet and displacement of more than 30,000 tons. It sits as the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maratime Museum in Charleston.

Fans will be admitted onto the aircraft carrier for free to watch the opening round but will need a ticket to the All-Star Game to watch the finals the following day.

HOMER HEROES: Augusta has built a reputation in recent years for sending home run hitters to the All-Star festivities.

Chris Dominguez, a member of the 2010 GreenJackets, won the home run derby at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C.

Adam Duvall represented Augusta last season and, though he didn’t win the exhibition, went on to homer in the All-Star Game and was named MVP in a 6-3 Southern Division win over the Northern Division.

POWERLESS: The GreenJackets won’t likely have a representative in this year’s home run derby.

Infielder Jose Cuevas entered Sunday’s game leading the team with four homers and only two others, Shawn Payne and Ben Thomas, had more than one.

Twenty-five South Atlantic League hitters entered the week with more home runs than Cuevas, led by Charleston’s Tyler Austin with 13 homers in 38 games. Hagerstown’s Matthew Skole and Savannah’s Travis Tijeron were tied for second with eight.

VOTING OPEN: Ballots for the Single-A Sally League’s All-Star Game were distributed to the league’s 14 teams and select members of the media last week.

Voters will pick 15 representatives from each division, including eight position players, two utility infielders, two utility outfielders, a designated hitter, a pitcher and a manager.

The ballot also has room to vote for a Northern Division All-Star trainer. The Southern Division will be automatically represented by Charleston’s Jorge Vargas, the trainer for the host team.

MINOR LEAGUERS SUSPENDED

Mets prospect Daniel Muno has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Luis Rojas, a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants’ organization, also was suspended Friday for the same violation of the minor league drug program.

Muno, an infielder, tested positive for a metabolite of Drostanolone. The 23-year-old switch-hitter was batting .283 with five homers and 23 RBI in 38 games for Class-A St. Lucie.

Rojas tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. He has no record and a 3.38 ERA in six relief appearances for Class-A San Jose. The right-hander was in the Mets’ organization from 2007-11.

The commissioner’s office said both suspensions are effective immediately.

There have been 43 suspensions this year under the minor league drug program.


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