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Ortiz gives Derby another shot

Ortiz gives Derby another shot

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rest assured that David Ortiz, who has hit some of the most legendary home runs in Red Sox history, never tires of going deep. It's just that in his experience with home run derbies, he has worn down from all the hefty cuts.

For the third year in a row, Ortiz will celebrate his berth in the All-Star Game by participating in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on ESPN, slated for July 10 at PNC Park.

Ortiz put on a show to remember in the first round of last year's competition at Comerica Park, belting 17 homers. But he couldn't keep up with eventual winner Bobby Abreu.

"It gets you tired," said Ortiz.

How can Ortiz prevent such fatigue? Red Bull by the gulp? Extra coffee?

"I don't know," said Ortiz. "I've got to find out."

The one reason Ortiz is well-suited for the Derby is because even during games, he is always swinging for the fence.

"But not continuously," said Ortiz, noting the difference between games and rapid-fire swings in a derby. "We'll see."

Ortiz has blossomed into a superstar since his arrival in Boston in 2003. He clubbed 31 homers his first year with the team, followed by 41 in '04 and 47 last year. Big Papi is doing his thing again this year, as he ripped 26 homers in his first 79 games.

He has gained enough respect that virtually all teams now put a dramatic shift on him. Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon got the most extreme, using three infielders and four outfielders, keeping the entire left side of the infield vacant.

"You know what, unless they put somebody in the stands, they're not going to stop it all the time," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

And that's the beauty of a Derby. It is Ortiz vs. the dimensions of the park. He thinks that he might have a favorable chance at PNC Park, where he played during Interleague Play in 2003.

"Yeah, good park to hit in," said Ortiz. "It's short."

Second baseman Mark Loretta, an All-Star in his first season in Boston, is looking forward to watching Big Papi go to work.

"It's fun. It's that workout day where everybody is kind of relaxed," said Loretta. "It's a fun venue with all the guys hitting the ball and watching how far it goes and all that stuff. I'll be interested to watch Big Papi -- he'll put on a show. He likes it. He enjoys putting on a show. He's a showman, so this is good for him."

Now, if Ortiz can just keep his bat fresh for the entire competition, he might put on a show worthy of a trophy.

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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