Yoenis Cespedes wins the 2013 Home Run Derby

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The winner of the Home Run Derby isn’t even an All-Star. But he’s here and his presence was validated: Yoenis Cespedes has won the 2013 Home Run Derby.

Cespedes hit 9 homers in the final round — his last traveling 455 feet — beating out Bryce Harper who had eight. Cespedes had 32 in all to Harper’s 24. In the team competition the the AL beat the NL 53 to 50. Cespedes did not have to use up all ten of his allotted outs in the second round. If he had, the AL — and Cespedes — likely would have had higher totals.

Harper was nothing if not consistent, hitting eight homers in each of the three rounds, but Cespedes seemed to have an entirely different gear tonight. His final round homers finding parts of the park that no competitor had found all night.

And so we have survived another Home Run Derby. They are fun for a while, then get a little tedious. But it was nice for once to see a competitor seem to grow stronger as the night went on rather than have the final round be somewhat anti-climactic. Oh, and it ended with Cespedes being awarded a brand new Chevy Silverado. So that’s nice for him.

That’s it from Citi Field for today. It’s been a long day of meet-and-greets, promotional events and weird exhibitions. Tomorrow we get the reason we’re all here: the All-Star Game.  Keep a window open with HardballTalk and NBCSports.com all day, as we’ll be hitting you with our best shots from morning until late in the night.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.