ANAHEIM — 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.”
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 passed away in May.
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.
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.
The derby field wasn’t exactly a murderers’ row, featuring five first-time competitors and no returning champions. Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and defending champion Prince Fielder all sat out. So did major league homers leader Jose Bautista, National League co-leaders Adam Dunn and Joey Votto, and Texas’ Josh Hamilton.