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How Manny Acta ended up helping Adrian Gonzalez to the finals

07.11.11 at 11:55 pm ET
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PHOENIX — The pre-Home Run Derby notes listed all the participants and their pitchers … except one.

Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder — Sandy Guerrero

David Ortiz and Robinson Cano — Jose Cano

Matt Kemp — Rob Flippo

Matt HollidayYadier Molina

Jose Bautista — Alex Andreopoulos

Adrian Gonzalez — TBA

Well, Gonzalez — who used San Diego coach Ray Crone when he last participated in the event in 2009 — found his pitcher. And here’s how …

“He didn’€™t have anybody to throw to him,” remembered Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “I was just sitting at my locker reading and he said, ‘€˜Hey, I’€™m still looking for somebody to throw to me.’€™ I overheard him and said, ‘€˜I’€™ll throw to you.’€™ So he said, ‘€˜Let’€™s go.’€™ It was good to see. He has unbelievable hand-eye coordination.”

With guidance from Gonzalez, Acta got the job done despite having no history with the Red Sox first baseman at all. The result was 31 total home runs, just one shy of the eventual champ, Cano.

“It was impressive doing it in front of so many people. But he took all the pressure off of me,” said Acta, who was instructed to throw waist-high, out over the plate.

“People get amazed by the distance but it’€™s whomever hits the most home runs that wins it. He was very consistent. He would just wait on his pitch and when he got it he didn’€™t miss it.”

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