Ortiz ready to test Comerica's fences
Slugger to represent the Dominican in this year's Derby
BALTIMORE -- The last time David Ortiz brought his big bat to a home run derby, he took aim at houses and trees amid the cozy confines of Cooperstown's Doubleday Field. That was the Hall of Fame Game back on May 23, and Ortiz won the competition in a landslide.
This will be a bigger stage with more power required. Ortiz, who walloped 21 homers in his first 321 at-bats this season, should be up to the challenge at the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby, which takes place during Monday's All-Star eve festivities at Comerica Park in Detroit.
With the gaps notoriously spacious at Comerica, the Boston designated hitter -- who is starting for the American League in Tuesday's All-Star Game -- will look to pull the ball.
"That's the only chance you have with that field," said Ortiz. "That field is huge. I guess you have to have somebody pitch to you the right way for you to go out there and pull a ball and put it in the right-field stands."
Red Sox third base coach Dale Sveum will pitch to Ortiz.
"I've batted against Sveum before and he might be the perfect guy to throw the Home Run Derby, because he can throw up and in and kind of soft," said Ortiz.
The Home Run Derby starts at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.
Ortiz also participated in last year's competition at Houston, but spent the latter stages of the event keeping eventual champ Miguel Tejada cooled off with a towel.
This year, the event has changed to a world format, with eight countries being represented. Tejada told reporters a week ago that he was asked to represent the Dominican Republic, but he suggested Ortiz take the honors.
"I vote for [Ortiz]," Tejada said on July 2. "I want David to be the guy. David Ortiz is our home run king in the Dominican. He is the best power hitter from the Dominican."
Ortiz was more than happy to represent his country.
"I think it will be fun," said Ortiz. "I think people are going to be very into the situation. Pretty much, I love representing my country in any kind of stuff."
Some hitters don't go to home run derbies because it messes up their swing. Ortiz? He loves swinging for the fences.
"I do that every day," Ortiz said. "I swing hard for the fence every day. That's going to keep my swing together for the second half."
The one thing Ortiz learned from last year's Derby is to beware of fatigue.
"It gets you tired," Ortiz said. "You use your whole power to hit the ball out. When you hit homers in the game, you have to know you're using the pitcher's power, too. You put a lot into it [in a derby]. You might want to take some time off in between pitches."
An eight-man field, representing eight different nations, will participate in the Home Run Derby: Ortiz, Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu (Venezuela), Pittsburgh's Jason Bay (Canada), Los Angeles' Hee-Seop Choi (South Korea), Atlanta's Andruw Jones (the Netherlands), Milwaukee's Carlos Lee (Panama), Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) and Texas' Mark Teixeira (United States).
As usual, there are three rounds and each batter gets 10 outs in an attempt to hit as many home runs as possible, with anything other than a homer recorded as an out. After the ninth out, sluggers will take their cuts against "Golden Home Run Balls." For each golden ball that leaves the park, Major League Baseball and sponsor CENTURY 21 will combine to donate $21,000 to charity.
In addition to the eight participating players, eight sweepstakes finalists will be heading to the Derby for the chance to win $250,000 toward the purchase of a home, compliments of CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC. Finalists will be matched with a slugger. The finalist paired with the player who wins the event will win the grand prize.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.