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Pitchers have their say in Derby
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07/15/2003 12:04 AM ET 
Pitchers have their say in Derby
Valle, Cadahia and Donnelly go all the way
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CHICAGO -- Three pitchers throwing countless pitches, 86 home runs and one dramatic finish later, the 2003 Home Run Derby was a smashing success.

It couldn't have been possible without Dave Valle, Benny Cadahia and Rich Donnelly, the unsung hurlers who turned Monday night's extended batting practice into a national phenomenon.

Valle, a former big-league catcher, shouldered and elbowed most of the work, throwing to champion Garret Anderson plus semifinalists Jim Edmonds and Jason Giambi and first-round flameouts Bret Boone and Carlos Delgado.

Cadahia, the Chicago Cubs' bullpen catcher, served up meat for finalist Albert Pujols and first-round casualty Gary Sheffield.

Donnelly, the Milwaukee Brewers' third-base coach, was flown in at the last minute by the Brewers' first baseman, Richie Sexson, and blew off a lunch with his wife to drive to the airport and board a plane with no luggage, toothbrush or clean socks.

That's dedication, and it didn't go unnoticed.

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Anderson, for example, said Valle did everything he could have asked for.

"I give a lot of credit to him because he kept pumping them in the right spot," Anderson said. "He just hit my bat. He was throwing the ball in a good spot for me and luckily I hit enough of them out to win the contest."

Valle was impressed by Anderson's feats, too.

"Garret's got such a sweet, smooth stroke," Valle said. "It seemed like every time I threw it down the middle, he hit it out of the park. He just has that nice, effortless backspin swing. The ball just takes off."

Valle did admit, however, that he was a bit humbled by his experience with Seattle's Bret Boone, who became the 15th player in Derby history to go homerless in the first round.

Valle is a former Mariner and a current Mariners broadcaster. Boone is a Mariner.

In other words, it was Boone who suggested Valle come out to Chicago to pitch to him.

"I feel terrible," Valle said. "He's the reason I'm here and he got shut out. He told me I have to take a bus home."

It went so badly for Boone that he actually swung and missed on one pitch.

"I didn't even want to look at him," Valle said. "I just looked straight down."

Pujols, who tied a Derby record with his astounding round of 14 in the semis, almost got emotional when talking about the efforts of Cadahia.

"He did an outstanding job," Pujols said. "He was putting the ball right on the money. I don't think even on a tee could have been better than what he was throwing. It was perfect, right where I wanted. He's amazing."

Cadahia admitted that fatigue might have played a part in Pujols' demise. He could only blast eight to Anderson's nine in the final.

"I don't know if it was me getting tired or Albert getting tired, but that was a lot of throwing for three rounds," Cadahia said.

"He did a great job, though. I was trying to calm him down after the big round. I said, 'Relax.' But I made a couple of mistake pitches in on him and he didn't like that."

Pujols didn't seem to mind when it was all over.

"I thanked him," he said of Cadahia.

"He didn't have to do it."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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