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 last 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."
Ortiz triumphantly held up the trophy featuring two crossed bats. He dedicated his performance to former major league pitcher Jose Lima, a Dominican Republic native who died in May after paramedics found him in cardiac arrest at his Southern California home.
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 and then waiting about 90 minutes for his second crack. Ortiz finished with 13 in the second round after getting off to a fast start.
St. Louis’ Matt Holliday, the Yankees’ Nick Swisher, Toronto’s Vernon Wells and Arizona’s Chris Young didn’t escape the first round.
HOME RUN DERBY WINNERS
2010: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (Angel Stadium)
2009: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers (Busch Stadium)
2008: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (Yankee Stadium)
2007: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels (AT&T Park)
2006: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (PNC Park)
2005: Bobby Abreu (Venezuela), Philadelphia Phillies (Comerica Park)
2004: Miguel Tejada, Baltimore Orioles (Minute Maid Park)
2003: Garret Anderson, Anaheim Angels (U.S. Cellular Field)
2002: Jason Giambi, New York Yankees (Miller Park)
2001: Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks (Safeco Field)
2000: Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs (Turner Field)
1999: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Fenway Park)
1998: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Coors Field)
1997: Tino Martinez, New York Yankees (Jacobs Field)
1996: Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (Veterans Stadium)
1995: Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox (The Ballpark in Arlington)
1994: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Three Rivers Stadium)
1993: Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers (Camden Yards)
1992: Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics (Jack Murphy Stadium)
1991: Cal Ripken, Baltimore Orioles (SkyDome)
1990: Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field)