Home Run Derby a delight for Swisher

Home Run Derby a delight for Swisher

ANAHEIM -- Nick Swisher wanted to hit at least one out in Monday night's State Farm Home Run Derby. He did better than that. He smacked four into the far reaches of right field at Angel Stadium.

That total wasn't good enough for Swisher to ascend to the second round -- he finished sixth -- but he'll be able to keep his head high on Friday when he returns to the Yankees' clubhouse to start the second half of the season against the Rays.

David Ortiz was the big winner, but no matter.

"I didn't get blanked in the Derby," the Yankees' right fielder said. "I put up a respectable number, so that's good. I had such a good time today. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun out there.

"I was looking around. I was so fired up. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do this. I'd definitely do it again."

A switch-hitter, Swisher batted left handed with Yankees coach Tony Pena on the mound -- a right-hander -- as the sun began to set near 6 p.m. PT. Three of his four shots went into the right-field bleachers and the other was pulled closer to the foul pole into the lower deck. He had 10 outs and 14 swings in all, including a rare foul back on the first swing he took.

"I was like, man, 'Just hit one,'" Swisher said. "And after I hit one, I said, 'Just hit one more.' And after I hit four, I was done. It was a blast. I'm here for the fans. I'm having an absolute blast, and I couldn't thank everyone enough for the opportunity."

In contention to move on for awhile, Swisher couldn't crack the top four of Corey Hart (13), Hanley Ramirez (nine), David Ortiz (eight) and Miguel Cabrera (seven).

Swisher was eliminated along Matt Holliday (five), Vernon Wells (two) and Chris Young (one).

"I was trying to find a rhythm," Swisher said. "I hit [two] early in the round, which was good. That's all right. I couldn't get in that groove."

Swisher was a late add to the Derby this past Saturday, essentially replacing Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano had a minor injury and the Yankees didn't want him competing. Elected to the American League team by the fans, Cano is starting for the first time in Tuesday's 81st All-Star Game.

Swisher was also a late add to the AL All-Star squad, winning the Final Vote by a hair over Boston's Kevin Youkilis as the 34th man on the team.

In his year and a half with the Yankees, Swisher has hit 44 homers -- 15 of them this season -- and driven in 131 runs.

Swisher was the first member of the Yankees in the Home Run Derby since Jason Giambi in 2002 and '03. Giambi won it all in '03, hitting 24 homers. He defeated Sammy Sosa, 7-1, in the final round at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the White Sox.

"If I had a chance to do it again, I definitely would. It'd be different," Swisher said. "You feel naked when you go out there. You've got all of these camera[men] standing around, no batting cage. At this time of day, it's tough to see. You've got the shadows out there. That big fence standing [in front of] the pitcher. It's different. It's just completely different. For the next time, I'll be ready."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.