Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz told reporters before Monday’s game against Tampa Bay that if he were asked to participate in this year’s State Farm Home Run Derby … he would.
On Sunday, Big Papi was named to his sixth career All-Star team, and though he hasn’t been approached about the Derby yet, he’ll be ready with an answer if they come knocking.
"That's what I do for a living," Ortiz told reporters, according to MLB.com. "Hit bombs."
That he does. Though the renowned slugger had a slow start to the 2010 season, his offense picked up in May and he has hit 17 homers in all. That mark ranks him seventh in the American League and 12th in MLB. Overall in his career, Ortiz has hit 334 bombs with 276 of them coming during his eight-year tenure with the Red Sox.
Ortiz is no stranger to the Derby, as he participated in the contest for three consecutive seasons from 2004-06. Big Papi struggled in the 2004 competition, hitting just three home runs to finish in last place, but in the following appearances, he advanced to the second round and finished in fourth place both years.
However, it’s not about winning for Ortiz as much as it is about having fun and putting on a good show for the fans. Always a character in the dugout, Big Papi has been an entertaining player to watch outside of the game. In past Derby appearances, he has been known to joke around with the other participants and has been seen trying to "cool off" other players with a towel.
"The worst thing about the Home Run Derby is just cooling off. That's the worst part about it," said Ortiz. "Other than that, it's fine. It's fun to watch, but it's fun to be in, too."
Other MLB players headed to the All-Star Game have stated that they will decline the offer to participate should an offer come their way. Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre is one of them. Hitters often refuse due to the fact that the extra batting practice the Derby brings can affect their swings later in the season.
"I don’t think I have any desire to go in," Beltre told reporters before Monday’s game in Tampa Bay. "I haven’t been asked yet, but even if I am, I don’t think I’ll accept it."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona allows his players to make this decision on their own, realizing it's an experience that the fans and the players enjoy.
"We let the players make up their mind. We wouldn’t get in the way of it," Francona said. "I guess, from where I sit, I’d love our guys to watch. Get their video camera out and have a good time. But I also know the fans want to see the guys do it."
If the Derby comes knocking for Big Papi, Red Sox fans will be hoping he has a good time while sending a few long balls out of the park. Just as long as he stays healthy while doing so.
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