Vlad the baddest of ’em all

First, there was the special bat David Ortiz wheeled out to him in a wooden case.

Then, Vladimir Guerrero paused during his second round of Monday’s Home Run Derby at AT&T Park to tape a finger on his right hand.

Finally, with the Los Angeles Angels’ power hitter one long ball away from defeating Toronto’s Alex Rios, Guerrero’s cousin Wilfredo Paulino built the drama even further by approaching the right fielder at home plate to deliver one final pep talk.

Guerrero supplied the majority of the theatrics during the popular slugging competition, so it was only fitting the right fielder walked away with the trophy. Guerrero beat Rios 3-2 with three outs to spare in the final round, dropping his bat and celebrating with 18 family members and friends before his high drive had even landed in the left-field bleachers.

Guerrero finished with 17 home runs, including a spectacular 503-foot shot in the second round that cleared the left-field seating.

His secret? Some extra sleep.

“Obviously you have to summon the energy for something like this and we got in very late last night,” Guerrero said through a translator. “So I slept a little bit later this morning to rest up a little.”

Rios, an outfielder for the Blue Jays, actually had the most home runs overall with 19, but the totals were reset to zero in the final round. He went on a spectacular run in the semifinals, blasting five in a row after getting down to his final out, finishing the round with 12.

The competition actually got off to a relatively slow start, as defending champion Ryan Howard (Philadephia Phillies, three homers) and fellow lefty sluggers Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers, three) and Justin Morneau (Minnesota Twins, four) were all eliminated after the first round. That left only right-handed hitters remaining and the contest surprisingly ended without a splash hit landing in McCovey Cove — at least none that were fair (Fielder splashed one foul).

Matt Holliday (Colorado Rockies) injected some life into the crowd with a superb second round, peppering the left-field stands with eight home runs.

But in the end, the lasting image was Guerrero dancing on the field with a Dominican flag.

“I wasn’t looking for anything,” he said. “I was just trying to swing the [bat] hard like I always do.”

melliser@examiner.com


What was the best moment from the Derby?

Share your comments below.

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City Attorney seeks to recoup ‘illegal profits’ gained by Walter Wong through city contracts

San Francisco will seek to recover “illegal profits” gained by well-known permit… Continue reading

UPDATED: Union weighing legal action after Police Commission vote to expand use-of-force policy

Commissioners directed Police Department to bypass meet-and-confer process with SFPOA

Free Muni for Youth program expansion halted by SFMTA budget crisis

Low- and moderate-income kids can still travel for free

Newsom orders multiple counties to shut down bars, indoor restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on… Continue reading

Most Read