Big Papi has more pop than Mar­lins’ Ramirez

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Greg Beacham

ANA­HEIM, Calif. — David Or­tiz be­lieves his power swing is all the way back, and now Bos­ton’s beloved slug­ger has a tro­phy to prove it.

The Red Sox slug­ger won his first Home Run Derby ti­tle Mon­day night, hit­ting 11 homers in the fi­nal round to beat Florida’s Han­ley Ramirez at An­gel Sta­dium.

With plenty of spark in the pow­er­ful swing that once made him one of the ma­jors’ most feared hit­ters, Big Papi put a re­lent­less se­ries of drives into the el­e­vated stands above the right-field wall. 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.

Or­tiz tri­umphantly held up the tro­phy fea­tur­ing two crossed bats. He ded­i­cated his per­for­mance to for­mer ma­jor league pitcher Jose Lima, a fel­low Dominican Re­pub­lic na­tive who passed away in May af­ter paramedics found him in car­diac ar­rest at his South­ern Cal­i­for­nia home.

“I wanted to come here and make sure the fans en­joy what we do,” Or­tiz said.

Ramirez matched Or­tiz’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.

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 crushed 13 in the sec­ond round af­ter get­ting off to a fast start.

With Yan­kees bench coach Tony Pena feed­ing fast­balls straight into his wheel­house, Or­tiz coolly out­slugged his younger com­peti­tors to win in his first derby ap­pear­ance since 2006. He reached the semi­fi­nals that year and in 2005.

He hadn’t been back in the field since — and Or­tiz’s en­tire ca­reer was on the skids af­ter he strug­gled in 2009 and again in April. Bos­ton’s long­time star is back on his game with 18 homers and 57 RBIs, earn­ing his sixth All-Star berth.

“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 said Ramirez, an­other Dominican slug­ger, is “like a son to me.”

The derby field wasn’t ex­actly a mur­der­ers’ row, fea­tur­ing five first-time com­peti­tors and no re­turn­ing cham­pi­ons.

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