07/13/11 1:26 AM ET
Shared ASG experience special for Crew duo
Fielder homers en route to MVP; Weeks scores in strong effort
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
"For them to have an opportunity to see each other -- continue to grow and mature as people, as well as baseball players, and have an opportunity to play on a stage like this as All-Stars -- it's special for both of them," said Ryan Braun, who sat out a 5-1 National League win that saw Fielder win Most Valuable Player honors. "I know that. And you can tell they're really enjoying having an opportunity to play alongside each other."
Fielder heard it from sold-out crowd at Chase Field during Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby, when they booed him for not selecting hometown favorite Justin Upton. And he heard it in the top of the fourth, when a foul popup off the bat of Jose Bautista hit off the heel of his glove and landed for a single.
But in the bottom half of that inning, when he hit a three-run homer to give the NL a lead it wouldn't relinquish, Fielder made friends -- with the 47,994 fans who suddenly loved him, and with temporary teammates who were grateful for home-field advantage in the World Series, the prize for winning the Midsummer Classic.
"I'm going to give him a kiss on the cheek," said Brandon Phillips, second baseman for the division-rival Reds. "I told him already. I'll give him a kiss ... when I get dressed."
Facing lefty C.J. Wilson, Fielder -- hitting .291 off southpaws this year -- worked a 2-2 count, then got a cutter on the outside corner and drilled it over the center-field fence to become the first player in Brewers history to homer in the Midsummer Classic.
"Yeah," Fielder said, "it was a good at-bat."
And it was the perfect end to an eventful weekend.
Fans voted in three Brewers to start for the NL, but Braun has been out since July 2 with a strained left calf and opted to miss the All-Star Game (though he has been taking part in baseball activities and still plans on playing in the Brewers' second-half opener on Thursday).
Weeks and Fielder became acquaintances during a two-year stretch in which they played 12-and-under AAU ball, then became teammates in Class A, when Weeks was drafted a year after Fielder in 2003.
That started a path that took them through the Minor Leagues, into the Majors -- where they both hit their first homers on June 25, 2005 -- in the playoffs in '08 and, finally, the All-Star Game.
Weeks' first Midsummer Classic saw him finish 0-for-3 but notch a steal and score a run.
He also saw his buddy go from villain to hero.
"The boos, I thought, were just uncalled for, unprofessional, but it is what it is," Weeks said. "To go ahead and hit the home run and get the MVP, it was great for him."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.