PITTSBURGH - National League Home Run Derby captain David Wright simply can't win. One day after replacing Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez with the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, Wright was nevertheless booed Friday at PNC Park.
"It's kind of cool that they're that passionate about their players," Wright said. "But I'm not going to lose any sleep getting booed a couple of games in Pittsburgh, that's for sure."
The NL team also includes the Nationals' Bryce Harper and the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer, one of Wright's longtime friends. Through text messages Thursday, Wright said Alvarez expressed his excitement to return home for the derby. Alvarez grew up in Washington Heights in Manhattan.
"I'm glad it worked out for him," said Wright, who had a spot to fill when Gonzalez pulled out of the event with a lingering finger injury. "It seems like he's really excited to do it."
Wright could choose only three players for the derby, though he had a list of about 10. Apparently, Alvarez who hit his 24th homer Friday night, ranked higher on that list than the Phillies' Domonic Brown and his 23 dingers.
"No matter what you do, there's going to be somebody that's unhappy, there's going to be a city that's unhappy," said Wright, who will surely catch heat in Philadelphia for once again passing over Brown. "But I thought Pedro was very deserving."
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud (broken foot) continues to feel lingering discomfort when he runs. Otherwise, he has been cleared for other baseball activities. The team expects the top catching prospect to play this season.
Lefthander Jonathon Niese (shoulder) began a long toss program at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Meanwhile, reliever Frank Francisco (elbow inflammation) pitched an inning in a Gulf Coast League game Friday, though a return still remains far off.
Righthander Matt Harvey threw a bullpen session Friday, though he will not start again for the Mets until after the All-Star break. He remains a front-runner to start for the NL on Tuesday . . . Mets Class A pitcher Estarlin Morel was suspended 25 games for violating the minor-league drug policy.