Tejada enjoys Derby despite early exit
2004 champion unable to advance to second round in '06
PITTSBURGH -- If one listens to Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, one would think it is easy to compete in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby. Tejada said the key to success is to not try to change your swing.
It worked for Tejada in 2004 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, as he won the Derby by edging Lance Berkman of the hometown Astros, 5-4, in the final round. Overall, the right-handed-hitting Tejada hit 27 home runs that year.
"Just try to hit the ball," Tejada said. "There are a lot of big strong guys, and sometimes they don't win it. The reason I won it two years ago, every swing [that I made], I pretended I was in a real game. Everything I did, I tried to do it 100 percent."
But, as Tejada put it, "It's a new year." Tejada participated in his second Home Run Derby on Monday night, and his performance was the antithesis of what he did in Houston two years ago. He was eliminated from the Derby after one round, after David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Jermaine Dye, David Ortiz and Ryan Howard hit more home runs in their first turns at bat.
Tejada led off the contest and hit three home runs, but he struggled throughout the round. Three of his 10 outs were popups, while two others went foul. Tejada also had three line-drive outs, but only one hit the fence.
"You never know when you are going to do [well]. You have to let God do what he [does]," Tejada said. "I had fun. I had a second chance to do it again. I know [PNC park] is big, but this is a normal ballpark."
Tejada's good friend, Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz, has an idea about why Tejada was eliminated so early in the contest.
"The Home Run Derby is something that looks easy, but you have to put a lot into it," said Ortiz. "It's not like a game day, where it's power vs. power. It's pretty much power vs. nothing. He tried to do his thing, but you know Miggy. Miggy is a power hitter, but he sets himself up as a line-drive, [batting-average guy]. He is one of the best in the game. He tried to put on a show for the fans, but that's how it goes."
Being eliminated didn't bother Tejada, who stayed on the field for the entire event and cheered Ortiz as he made it to the semifinals, and then watched Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard become the champion of the event.
"It was good to see those guys do what they are doing. What we did today was for the fans," said Tejada. "I think the fans enjoy it more than we do. It was good to see the young guys do what they did."
Ortiz was just as happy to have Tejada by his side.
"I have a lot of respect for him," said Ortiz. "Miggy is like my brother, and I love him to death. I'm just happy to have him here to be part of this [American League] team and all the fun he brings to all of us."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.