BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox DH David Ortiz is ready to defend his Home Run Derby crown in Arizona Monday night.
“I think it’s a fun time,” Ortiz said of the Derby. “It’s the show that pretty much everyone comes to see.”
Ortiz hit 32 homers in the 2010 Derby, defeating Hanley Ramirez in the finals. Ortiz won it by crushing 11 into the Angel Stadium crowd in the final round. Big Papi has 68 home runs over his four Derby appearances.
But Papi’s fifth time in the contest will be a little different. He will be doing it as a captain of the AL squad. The 2010 champ had the honors of picking the team that will try to match long balls with the National League.
For his selections, he did not have to look too far. Ortiz selected three other AL East sluggers including teammate Adrian Gonzalez. Ortiz and Gonzalez have a combine 36 homers this season (17 for Gonzo and 19 for Papi), but their individual totals are not as impressive when going up against Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Last year’s regular season home run champ was not selected to participate in the Derby, but was not going to be denied with his Major League-leading 31 long balls at the break. Ortiz rounded out the team with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and his 15 home runs.
Combine, the four AL sluggers have 82 home runs in the first half.
Over in the National League, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and his 22 homers were in charge of picking who would get to swing away Monday night. Fielder went with teammate Rickie Weeks (17), Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp (22) and Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (14). All three will be making their first Home Run Derby appearance, with Fielder participating in his third.
MLB will be using special “golden” baseballs this season when a player is on their final out. The baseballs have a leather panel infused with 24-karat gold making an interesting, and valuable, souvenir for anyone who catches one. The baseballs are worth $149.99 and for each one hit MLB will donate $18,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of America.