Abreu powers up 2 records in Home Run Derby

Phillie hits 24 in 1st round, 41 total

Teixeira gets two

All-Star Game notebook

July 12, 2005|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu got last night's Home Run Derby off to an amazing start when he led off the competition with a record 24 homers in the first round.

How do you top that?

Well, you don't, but Abreu - who was representing Venezuela in the newly reformatted home run exhibition - hit just enough to stay alive in the second round and defeated Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, 11-5, in the last round to win the pre-All-Star event.

"It was very important because I was representing my country," Abreu said. "I give this trophy to my country. I am so excited, I don't know what to say."

Abreu's three-round total of 41 homers also set a record for the home run contest, which featured players from eight countries. Mount St. Joseph graduate Mark Teixeira, the Texas Rangers first baseman, represented the United States and was eliminated in the first round after hitting only two home runs.

America's team

Talk about priceless. The look on Tony La Russa's face said it all after honorary American League president Jackie Autry told Red Sox manager Terry Francona that "everybody" was rooting for his team in the postseason last year.

"I think everyone in the United States was rooting for the underdog, the Boston Red Sox, so it was really fun and exciting for all of us," Autry said during her opening remarks at the All-Star news conference.

Former Phillies owner Bill Giles opened his remarks by pointing out that the National League has never won the All-Star Game while he has been honorary NL president, then delivered a glowing testimonial while he was introducing La Russa as one of the greatest managers ever.

"Thank you," La Russa said. "I'll try to outmanage Terry like we did in October."

The laughter died down, but La Russa still had a little sarcasm left.

"We were all pulling for the Red Sox," he deadpanned, "and we're all pulling for the American League tomorrow night."

Home-field edge

The decision to have home-field advantage in the World Series hinge on the outcome of the All-Star Game remains controversial, if NL manager La Russa's comments are any indication.

"Terry and I believe that there probably is a better way to arrive at who gets home-field advantage," La Russa said, "to do it during the season rather than play in the All-Star Game. It's an important thing."

The Cardinals had the best record in baseball, but the Red Sox got the home-field advantage in the World Series and pulled off a four-game sweep to end an 86-year title drought.

"Would we have played better [with home-field advantage]?" La Russa said. "Yeah, I think that if we had started the series in St. Louis, maybe we would have lost in five."

Still dazzled

Major league save leader Chad Cordero had the look of a kid on Christmas at the player interview session. He barely stopped in the minor leagues after leaving college baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton, and now he's representing the Nationals in the All-Star Game in his second major league season.

"I'm just surprised to be in the major leagues," he said. "From two months in the minor leagues to the All-Star Game, that's quite a jump."

Around the horn

The United States will be grouped with Mexico, Canada and South Africa next year in the first round of baseball's first World Cup-style tournament. ... Robert White, 38, of Baltimore was the winner of Ameriquest Mortgage's "Key To Your Dreams" sweepstakes, which includes a trip to tonight's All-Star Game with Cal Ripken and former Tigers pitcher Jack Morris.

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