The swing of Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was more powerful than his hug for a countryman in the final of the Home Run Derby.
Ortiz won the contest, a prelude to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game tonight, by hitting 11 home runs in the final round to five for Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Ortiz and Ramirez reached the final by each hitting 21 homers in the first two rounds last night. Ortiz is a veteran of the Home Run Derby, while Ramirez was making his debut.
“It was my fourth time,” Ortiz said in a news conference, “so I just kind of used my experience.”
Ortiz, 34, had already hit his 11 homers in the final round when Ramirez, 26, was struggling with four homers and six outs. Each player is allowed 10 outs per round, with any hit ball that doesn’t clear the fence for a home run counting as an out.
Ortiz strolled to home plate to towel off Ramirez and give his Dominican Republic countryman a hug.
“I told him, ‘Take it easy, don’t get too tired,’ because that’s what the Home Run Derby is all about,” Ortiz said in a news conference. “I wasn’t worried about winning and losing, it was giving the fans a good show.”
The words of advice didn’t help Ramirez, who had only one more homer before reaching 10 outs.
Ortiz said in an on-field television interview that he dedicated his victory to fellow Dominican Jose Lima, a former major league pitcher who died in May of a heart attack at the age of 37.
“This is an honor for me to be here, to be part of Major League Baseball, to be a part of those fans that support us every day,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to come here and make sure the fans enjoyed what we do. We definitely wanted to put on a good show for them.”
Cabrera and Hart
The Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who is second in the American League this season with 22 home runs and tied for the major league lead with a .346 batting average, was knocked out in the second round. So was Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers, who hit 13 homers in the first round and none in the second.
Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees, Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays, Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals all failed to advance past the first round. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. home and auto insurer, donated $573,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America based on the 95 total home runs hit in the contest.