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Ortiz launches 13 long balls

Ortiz launches 13 long balls

PITTSBURGH -- In typical Big Papi fashion, David Ortiz gave the Allegheny River an extensive workout during Monday's CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby. The left-handed masher hit one monster shot that traveled an estimated 488 feet before making a direct landing into the kayak-filled water that rests behind the right-field stands at PNC Park.

And during his 10-homer first round -- placing him second overall heading into the second round -- Ortiz hit the river on the bounce four other times, giving the packed house reason to shriek with awe.

"You know, you have to put everything you have into it," Ortiz said. "It's a little crazy, but that's how it goes. I guess I was a little powerful. I left everything in the first round, I guess, like always."

By the end of the night, Ortiz, who played a 19-inning game for the Red Sox 24 hours earlier, wore down.

For the second year in a row, Ortiz hit just three long balls in the semifinals and didn't qualify for the championship round. Still, he was very much front and center during the competition, which included many of the game's elite strongmen. Ryan Howard, the young slugger of the Phillies, won the competition.

"Well, yeah, I'm happy," said Ortiz. "It's not all about winning, it's about the fans who get involved in this -- and they try to have fun -- so we try to put on a good show. This is fun to do. A lot of players walk away from doing it, but the guys that decided to do it -- it's good for the fans, it's good for the game. Like I said, it's all about having fun."

Ortiz took his hacks with his cap on backwards, Ken Griffey Jr. style. D'Angelo Ortiz, David's son, celebrated his second birthday by taking in much of the competition from Big Papi's -- make that Big Papa's -- lap.

"It was fun to be with my kids," Ortiz said. "We've been gone [on a road trip] for a long time."

Perhaps Ortiz, who has 31 homers and 87 RBIs, used up his quota of long balls in the games that count. Ortiz finished the first half at a red-hot pace, with eight homers in his last nine games.

"I feel more pressure doing that than in the game," Ortiz said. "All you want to do is hit the ball out. It looks easy, but it's not like in the game where you have speed [from the pitch] ... you have to put a lot into it."

Ortiz used Phillies bullpen coach Ramon Henderson as his pitcher. Henderson served up the pitches in Bobby Abreu's record-setting performance last year in July.

The Home Run Derby was just the start of the All-Star festivities for Ortiz, who will bat third and start at first base for the American League in Tuesday's game.

"Well, you know, whoever wins this is going to have the home-field advantage in the World Series. I think it's very important for each league to win," Ortiz said. "You know everybody is going to try to do their best out there."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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