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Red Sox Notebook

Ortiz wields his power

Derby captain fills out squad

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / July 4, 2011

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HOUSTON - David Ortiz didn’t wait until tomorrow’s deadline to fill out his four-man roster for the Home Run Derby next Monday at Chase Field in Phoenix.

As the captain of the American League contingent, Ortiz, who was voted to the All-Star team for the seventh time in his career, already had an idea of which sluggers he wanted.

Before yesterday’s 2-1 victory over the Astros, which concluded a nine-game interleague trip, Ortiz revealed his picks, beginning with Red Sox teammate Adrian Gonzalez and Toronto’s Jose Bautista.

“When we started talking about the Home Run Derby, they told me, ‘Hey, you can pick three guys,’ ’’ Ortiz said. “The first name that came into my mind was Gonzo. He’s ridiculous when he’s hitting in batting practice. He’s told me things in batting practice, where he wanted to hit the ball, and then he’d hit it [there]. That’s how easy he makes it look.

“It’s like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s my guy. I’ve got to bring him to the Home Run Derby.’ That guy, he knows how to use a damn bat.’’

Ortiz, the defending Derby champion, said he was disappointed Bautista, the major league leader in home runs with 27, was not selected to participate in last year’s event.

“When I called, he was like, ‘You don’t have to say it twice.’ I knew Bautista should’ve been in it last year,’’ Ortiz said. “I was kind of a little upset about it, because I wanted to see Bautista hitting, I wanted everybody to know what he’s all about.’’

Originally, Ortiz’s other pick was Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is second in the AL in homers (25) and RBIs (65) but was not selected to the All-Star team and declined Ortiz’s invitation to join him in Phoenix.

“Can you believe that?’’ said an astonished Ortiz, who instead has chosen Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the final spot.

“I haven’t talked to Cano, but I texted him right after our game,’’ said Ortiz. “I think he probably will.’’

Ortiz said Teixeira expressed doubt about making the All-Star roster against the likes of Gonzalez, who garnered almost 2 million more fan votes than the Yankee, and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, who was voted as a reserve.

“He told me, ‘Papi, you know what? I’m not sure if I’m even going to be at the All-Star Game because there’s a lot of great first basemen,’ ’’ Ortiz said of Teixeira. “Being selected to the All-Star team, sometimes it’s not about the numbers, it’s about how many votes you get. But he’s an All-Star to me.’’

Ortiz said he was uncertain about the picks of NL captain Prince Fielder.

“I know he’s going to try to pick a bomb squad, you know what I’m saying?’’ Ortiz said, breaking into a laugh. “It’s going to be fun.’’

Role reversal The Sox swept the Astros to improve to 10-8 against the National League this season. And while manager Terry Francona is probably the happiest person in the clubhouse to be done with interleague play, Ortiz could be a close second.

Ortiz now can go back to his more familiar - and infinitely more comfortable - role as the designated hitter, starting this afternoon against the Blue Jays.

“Oh, man, you’re not kidding me,’’ said Ortiz, who played first base twice during the trip, in Philadelphia June 29 and in Houston Saturday night.

Ortiz went 0 for 11 on the trip, extending his overall skid to 0 for 21. Pinch hitting really seemed to bother him.

“When you guys first asked me about the pinch-hitting thing, I was trying to stay positive,’’ Ortiz said. “I didn’t want to put any things in my head, but it [stunk]. I’m not going to lie to you.’’

Ortiz pinch hit six times, going 0 for 5 and grounding into an inning-ending double play yesterday in the eighth.

Getting back to the AL is “good for David,’’ said Kevin Youkilis.

“You know, interleague games where you’re going nine games on the road is not really [ideal]. I can understand a National League team doing that, but the American League teams have DHs who play every day and then they can’t play, so it’s a little tough.’’

Crawford not ready When he was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 18 with a left hamstring strain, Carl Crawford hoped he would be ready to play against his hometown Astros. But that wasn’t the case. Crawford was eligible to be reinstated yesterday. “I knew it was a long shot,’’ Crawford said. “Hamstring injuries usually don’t heal that quick, so you want to make sure that you heal 100 percent and don’t have to go back on the DL.’’ . . . Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 17 consecutive games, hitting .354 (23 for 65) with a .469 on-base percentage during that stretch. He went 5 for 11 with 4 walks, 2 runs, and 3 RBIs against the Astros . . . Jonathan Papelbon picked up his 17th save, striking out the side in the ninth. The last out was made by Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, the son of Ron, the Sox first base coach.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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