Ortiz starts strong, fades in Derby
Red Sox slugger hits 17 Round 1 homers, only three in Round 2
DETROIT -- The spacious gaps of Comerica Field weren't the big nemesis for David Ortiz as he attempted to win Monday night's CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby. Instead, what seemed to prevent Ortiz from topping a show-stopping performance by sweet-swinging Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu was fatigue.
Ortiz got on quite a roll in the first round, using his tremendous power to belt 17 homers off Sox third base coach Dale Sveum. Those 17 long balls rank second for a single round in the history of the derby, falling seven shy of the record Abreu set in his first round.
One thing Ortiz had was quite a cheering section from his Dominican countrymen. Last year, Ortiz played the roll of cheerleader, helping Baltimore's Miguel Tejada dominate the field in Houston.
This time around, Tejada declined his invitation to represent the Dominican and nominated Ortiz.
When Ortiz got on his roll, which included a 483-foot rocket to the upper deck in right field, Tejada was scurrying around in foul territory furiously waving a Dominican flag.
Once Ortiz completed his dazzling display in Round 1, he was mobbed at home plate by Tejada, Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero.
"Yeah, you know, I think he did the best he [could]," Tejada said. "He hit 17 in one round. That's something to see."
As Ortiz was in the midst of his run of moonshots, Tejada rushed out and poured some Gatorade down his throat.
"I told him to calm down and try to hit 25," Tejada said.
Things didn't go nearly as well for Ortiz in the second round. Needing just seven homers to advance to the final, the big DH cleared the wall just three times, eliminating him from the competition.
"It takes a lot of you," Ortiz told ESPN after his final swing. "But you have to go out there and try to get it done."
Player & Total
|Bobby Abreu||41||56K | 350K||
Complete Coverage >
|Ivan Rodriguez||20||56K | 350K|
|David Ortiz||20||56K | 350K|
|Carlos Lee||15||56K | 350K|
|Hee-Seop Choi||5||56K | 350K|
|Andruw Jones||5||56K | 350K|
|Mark Teixeira||2||56K | 350K|
|Jason Bay||0||56K | 350K|
Red Sox hitting coach Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson tried to encourage Ortiz into a comeback in the second round, motioning for the slugger to increase his uppercut. But it just wasn't Ortiz's night. Center stage belonged to Abreu, who set a record by clubbing 41 homers in the competition.
"He had a great first round," Jackson said of Ortiz. "We're proud of him. Sitting around a little longer, he was the last guy. I'm not trying to make excuses. It was all in fun."
When it comes to the games that count, nobody in the Major Leagues has hit more big home runs the last couple of years than Ortiz.
"The only thing that matters is what he does in the season," Jackson said. "This was great fun."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.