PHOENIX -- The realization hit Matt Kemp quickly, upon his first swings in Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby.
"It's definitely harder than what it looks like on TV," Kemp said.
That much showed in the results. Despite a late surge, Kemp mustered just two home runs in his Derby debut and was eliminated in the first round.
"Definitely no excuses," the Dodgers outfielder said. "I probably should have done better. I just didn't hit any out today."
Recording nine straight outs, Kemp finally hit consecutive homers on his 10th and 11th swings of the event. But he popped up on his 12th swing, ending his night.
Though Kemp often puts on shows during batting practice at Dodger Stadium -- especially lately -- he noted that the atmosphere was vastly different at Chase Field, without a cage around him and with more than 40,000 fans in attendance. Even the comfort of having bullpen catcher Rob Flippo throw to him was not enough.
"I was probably a little amped up, probably a little quick," Kemp said. "I definitely thought I should have done better, but I would do it again. It was fun."
Kemp's two home runs both came on "gold balls," raising $36,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"That was a great experience," he said. "I'm really excited I got to be a part of that."
One of defending champion Prince Fielder's three picks for the National League Home Run Derby team, Kemp has established himself as an early MVP candidate with a .313 average, 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 92 games. He is well on his way to surpassing his career high of 28 home runs, set last season, and will start in center field and bat third for the NL in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
But regular-season success did not translate into Derby glory. All five hitters who preceded Kemp in the first round hit at least three home runs, meaning he was officially eliminated as soon as he took his final swing. Still, Kemp stuck around until the end of the event, watching Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano upend Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the finals.
For Cano and Gonzalez, it looked easy -- even to a man who knows it most certainly is not.
"They put on a show, man," Kemp said. "Those are some big-time hitters."