Ordonez bows out of Derby early
Outfielder hits two homers in first round; Belliard tosses to Rios
SAN FRANCISCO -- Magglio Ordonez didn't consider himself a home run hitter, but he also said he was going to give the State Farm Home Run Derby a shot when Major League Baseball asked. He ended up with a pair of shots to left, but that was it, giving him a first-round exit.
It was not exactly an upset. Ordonez, initially reluctant to participate, had realistic expectations for the event leading in, trying not to change his swing for home runs. He actually has a history with homers, winning the ESPN-produced Big League Home Run Challenge held prior to the 2003 season, but that was then.
He hit 38 home runs in 2002 with the White Sox. He has hit 83 since, 13 this season, and none since June 2. Instead, he's leading the Majors this year with a .367 average while driving in 70 runs and batting .440 with runners in scoring position.
"I'm a different hitter [now]," Ordonez said earlier in the day. "It was a really exciting moment [winning the ESPN event]. But it's weird, because you're at home plate by yourself and the pitcher's throwing and there's a lot of people around you. Today, I'm just going to go out and have fun and have a good time."
Ordonez showed that batting eye during his time at the plate Monday night, taking pitches from Tigers bullpen catcher Scott Pickens while waiting on one to pull. He made two outs before driving his first home run to the deep dimensions of left-center field, an estimated 422-foot blast.
He came close on a couple of hits after that, hitting a one-hopper to the fence before driving another ball off the fence in left. He was at seven outs when he hit his other homer, this one a 408-foot drive into the left-field seats.
He ended up with the lowest total of the competition, but he still ended up with an All-Star memory.
"It was a good experience," Ordonez said afterwards. "I had a good time."
One Tiger outlasted Ordonez in the Derby. Infield coach Rafael Belliard, owner of two home runs in 1,155 Major League games as a player, was drafted to pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios. He made it all the way to the final round before losing out to winner Vladimir Guerrero.
"I was talking to [Tigers second baseman Placido] Polanco and [others], and they told me he threw a good BP," Rios said. "So I just took him."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.