KC’s Witt bound for Home Run Derby

First-time All-Star Bobby Witt Jr. will have an added activity for next week's All-Star Game when he suits up for Monday's Home Run Derby. The exhibition pits the top sluggers in the game in a round-robin home run-hitting tournament.



July 9, 2024 - 3:57 PM

Bobby Witt Jr. of the Kansas City Royals runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday, May 24, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/TNS)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Royals star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. will be pulling double-duty at the 2024 MLB All-Star Game.

On Monday, Witt announced that he will participate in the Home Run Derby on July 15. The annual exhibition pits top sluggers in a round-robin elimination tournament the day before the 94th Midsummer Classic at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

“It’s an honor just to be able to be asked to do that and kind of represent the Royals,” Witt said.

Fans can watch the Home Run Derby at 7 p.m. Central Time next Monday on ESPN.

The fifth Royals player to participate in the Home Run Derby, Witt said league officials had asked if he wanted to be in the contest. Witt said he consulted with several people, including teammate Salvador Perez and members of the KC coaching staff, before saying yes.

Perez was the last Royal to compete in a Home Run Derby, doing so in 2021. Perez blasted 28 home runs in the first round that year to set a club record.

“The first person I asked, honestly, was Sal,” Witt said. “(I asked), ‘How did your body feel and what do you think?’ He was like, ‘You have to do it.’ So, from talking to Sal, the training staff, the coaching staff and teammates, they are all for me doing it, too.”

Witt was named to his first All-Star Game on Sunday.

It will be a homecoming for the talented shortstop, as he grew up outside the Dallas area in Colleyville, Texas. Witt was selected as an All-Star reserve alongside Perez and pitching teammates Seth Lugo and Cole Ragans.

This season, Witt has hit 15 home runs in 92 games. He also became the first Royal with a 30-30 campaign last year.

Witt will join Philadelphia Phillies star Alec Bohm, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson in the Home Run Derby. It was also announced on Monday that Braves slugger Marcell Ozuna will participate. 

The next question: Who will pitch to Witt in the event?

He considered his father, Bobby Witt Sr. — a longtime former major league pitcher — but he has granted the responsibility to his brother-in-law, James Russell. Russell pitched in the big leagues, too, appearing in 394 games during a seven-year MLB career with the Cubs, Braves and Phillies.

“It was a consideration,” Witt said of his dad, “but his arm is hanging after pitching 16 years in the big leagues.

“I’m going to go with my brother-in-law for now, James Russell. His dad played for the (Texas) Rangers and he grew up a Rangers fan. … It’s just a good little family affair, but he is gonna enjoy it.”