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Lee turns in strong showing at Derby

Lee turns in strong showing at Derby

DETROIT -- In any other year, Carlos Lee's 11 homers in round one of the Century 21 Home Run Derby would have been enough to draw oohs and ahs from his teammates and the crowd.

But not this time. Lee batted two slots behind Bobby Abreu, who slugged a record-breaking 24 homers in the first round of the Derby on Monday at Comerica Park, turning every else's at-bats into a mere sideshow.

Lee, the Milwaukee outfielder who represented his native Panama in the first Home Run Derby to carry a multi-cultural twist, had a fine performance at the plate in front of a packed house of 41,004. He stayed in through the second round before he was eliminated by finalists Abreu and Pudge Rodriguez.

Lee gushed about Abreu's 41 overall homers, poking fun at himself as he recalled his National League teammates trying to make him feel better about his own first-round performance.

"The guys said, 'You hit 11,'" Lee said. "'That's a big number.' I went, 'A big number? He hit 15 more than me!'"

Lee's teammates then reminded him that prior to Abreu's outburst, the previous first-round record was 15. So, Lee was only four off the mark.

"I was like, 'Yea, but he got 24,'" Lee laughed. "It was amazing. He put on a show out there. Everything he was hitting was going out of the park."

But Lee came out swinging, too, and in the first round, he felt as strong as Superman. That sensation wears off, however, as the at-bats pile up. Keep in mind, this isn't just another round of batting practice for these All-Stars. They're swinging in front of a packed house that wants to see the long ball. There's no such thing as pacing yourself -- players are expected to swing mightily, and they do.

So, round two was a little tougher, which may explain the dropoff in home runs, from 11 to four.

Player & Total
Highlights
 
Bobby Abreu 41 56K | 350K Home Run Derby
Complete Coverage >
Ivan Rodriguez 20 56K | 350K
David Ortiz 20 56K | 350K
Carlos Lee 15 56K | 350K
Hee-Seop Choi 5 56K | 350K
Andruw Jones 5 56K | 350K
Mark Teixeira 2 56K | 350K
Jason Bay 0 56K | 350K

"It was a lot of fun, but I tell you what, it wasn't easy," Lee said. "You get tired out there. You get tired and that bat starts to get heavier and heavier. At the end of the [second] round, I thought that bat was 40 pounds."

Lee may or may not know that he raised a ton of money with his swings.

Rawlings, Major League Baseball's official supplier of baseballs, designed and created a gold baseball, which has a cover consisting of one sheath in gold and one in traditional white stitched together.

Those special baseballs were thrown when a player was down to his last out. For every homer hit by a player using the gold baseball, Major League Baseball and CENTURY 21 will together donate $21,000 to charities including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the official charity of Major League Baseball, and Easter Seals, the official charity of CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC.

Lee hit homers three times with the gold baseball, which means he alone raised $63,000. In total, the event raised $294,000.

In his first Home Run Derby as a first-time All-Star, Lee enjoyed his moments in the spotlight.

"You get butterflies in the first round," he said. "I was nervous the first couple of swings, and then I got my first homer. Then I felt a lot better."

Alyson Footer 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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