July 13, 2010 in Sports

Ortiz is new king of swing

Defeats Ramirez in Home Run Derby
Greg Beacham Associated Press
Associated Press photo

The Red Sox’s David Ortiz watches the flight of one of his home runs during the first round of Monday’s Home Run Derby.
(Full-size photo)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – David Ortiz believes his power swing is all the way back. After a big finish in the Home Run Derby, Boston’s beloved slugger has a trophy to prove it.

Big Papi won his first derby title Monday night, hitting 11 homers in the final round to beat Florida’s Hanley Ramirez at Angel Stadium.

Showing plenty of potency in the fierce swing that once made him one of the majors’ most feared hitters, the Red Sox star put a relentless series of drives into the elevated stands above the right-field wall.

With Yankees bench coach Tony Pena crossing rivalry lines to feed fastballs straight into his wheelhouse, Ortiz hit 21 homers in the first two rounds of his fourth derby before holding off Ramirez to emerge from a field missing most of baseball’s top power hitters.

“This is my fourth time, so I just kind of used the experience,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to come here and make sure the fans enjoy what we do.”

Ramirez, Ortiz’s fellow Dominican slugger and former Boston teammate, matched Papi’s 21 homers in the first two rounds, pulling most of his shots over the left-field wall. But Ortiz became just the second slugger to reach double digits in the final round, while Ramirez managed only five.

“It’s good for him,” Ramirez said. “He’s been through a tough time. I know he’s going to come back in the second half.”

Ortiz reached the derby semifinals in 2005 and 2006, but hadn’t been back in the field since. His entire career was on the skids after he struggled in 2009 and again in April, but Boston’s longtime star is back on his game with 18 homers and 57 RBIs this season, earning his sixth All-Star berth.

“I’ve been dealing with so many things the past few years,” Ortiz said. “Coming back here (to another All-Star game), I want to thank the players for giving me the opportunity to be here. This is a job that we have, but it’s called a game. That’s what I try to do during the season — have fun with my teammates and make sure everything goes the right way.”

Milwaukee’s Corey Hart and Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera were eliminated in the second round, with Hart failing to connect after hitting 13 in the opening round. Ortiz finished with 13 in the second round.

The Anaheim crowd booed Ortiz during pregame introductions, still remembering several years of postseason clashes between his Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels. But Ortiz hadn’t homered at Angel Stadium since hitting a shot during the 2007 A.L. division series.

Ortiz hit eight homers in the opening round, which included plateside delivery of a towel and a refreshing drink from laughing Tampa Bay closer Rafael Soriano.

Ortiz, who has been known for goofing around during the derby silliness in recent years, gave a towel break during the final round to Ramirez, who he said is “like a son to me.” Ramirez was traded to Florida when the Red Sox acquired ace Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.

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