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September 22, 2011

Guerrero chasing Dominican hits record; wants to play few more years

Orioles designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero is on the precipice of becoming the major league’s all-time hits leader from the Dominican Republic, and he hopes to build on that record for another couple of seasons.

Heading into Friday’s series in Detroit, Guerrero has 2,583 hits, three behind the all-time Dominican leader, Julio Franco, who was Guerrero’s teammate for two years in winter league ball.

“Right now, I don’t know how to feel,” Guerrero said through interpreter Rudy Arias. “We’ll see when the time comes.”

Guerrero, 36, is finishing strong, batting over .400 in his last 16 games and climbing toward a .300 average for what would be the 14th time in his past 15 seasons. His 13 home runs, however, would be his fewest in a season since he hit 11 in 90 games as a rookie in 1997.

Signed to a one-year deal this winter, it would be surprising if the rebuilding Orioles re-sign Guerrero. But Guerrero is not thinking about retiring.

“I feel I can play two or three more years,” he said. “And I just need to work a little harder this offseason when I go to the Dominican and see what happens.”

Guerrero also is just one homer away from 450 for his career. The only Dominican-born players with more are Sammy Sosa (609) and Manny Ramirez (555).

“Four-hundred and fifty is a big number; I’ll be very happy when I get it,” Guerrero said. “But those numbers just come and you just keep adding. If it comes to me, 450 is a great number.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he is hoping that Franco will come to Camden Yards next week to honor Guerrero if he sets the hits record. Guerrero was asked whether he would like to share the moment with anyone else, and he mentioned Felipe Alou, his former Montreal Expos manager.

“He was my first manager; he gave me the opportunity,” Guerrero said. “He was the one who brought me to Montreal, and I’d be real happy if he could see it.”

When asked how he has been able to climb up so many impressive offensive lists in his career, Guerrero smiled and said: “I believe in God, that he gave me the ability to do this, and I work very hard for everything I have done and for my longevity.”

Showalter stressed just how important he thinks the Dominican hits record is for Guerrero and for the Orioles.

“This milestone coming up is a huge deal to us,” Showalter said. “Obviously, it is more for Vlady, but if you think about all the great players who have played here from the Dominican Republic and we have got a chance to have on our team one that’s got a chance to go down as the all-time hits leader. That’s something we are so proud of as an organization.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

The ball is not "jumping" off Guerrero's bat but he still makes decent contact.

No longer a long ball threat, but anytime you have a .300 hitter you gotta make a spot on your team for him.

He has been hustling, too. Perhaps a lighter bat could speed up his swing.

That is a very impressive record, and part of me hopes that he'll set it at home, although with 3 games in Detroit he has a solid chance of doing it there. (Although with Verlander pitching Sunday it's like he has 2 games in Detroit). I have said all year that although I don't think signing Guerrero made much sense, I have been glad to watch him play.

These wins against the Sox are the most exciting of the year. Before the 7 games began, I said in my head that this is the 2011 Orioles World Series (sad, I know) and it has felt a little bit like that watching the games.

Plus, Guerrero is not quite 85, like Julio Franco was when he retired.

Too bad he isn't finishing his eighth year with the Orioles instead of his first. In 2004, we had 39 total HR's from our three primary OF's and our DH. Vlady had 39 all by himself for Anaheim. But, hey, we didn't bid against ourselves. Another victory for The Warehouse.

Good luck to Vlady on his milestone. He's been nothing but a class act throughout his HOF career. Too bad he can't catch the cheaters, Sosa and Ramirez, in the long ball department.

if there ever was a hitter that personified the saying 'nobody walks off the island',
its Vlad. Easy to get mad at this year as he seemed to be killing rallies left and right and did not hit with the usual power, but you can't deny how much fun he is to watch hit. Even Remy last night was laughing at a ball that Vlad somehow made contact with that looked like it bounced before he hit it.

There was an article in SI a while ago on the science of hitting. It seemes to boil down to this- the better hitters recognize much earlier than others(and this is a split second thing) where that pitch is going, and can get the bat to that spot at the right time. I guess Vlad knows where it's going, and regardless of where, that's where his bat is going to be.

I feel bad for Vladdy.

Based on his career, you naturally assume he would be a 500 HR guy. And, you knew he probably went into this year trying to get towards that goal. As it stands right now, he probably won't get there. He's productive enough to be a decent bat, but he's entering that dangerous nether zone where he's maybe not productive enough to offset a club's desire to give a chance to a young player who might be a future asset.

Veterans who find a way to last a few more years usually do it by adapting and adjusting their game somehow. For instance with Omar Vizquel, he was always a great glove and towards the end, he turned into a veteran presence UT guy.

The O's need leaders, personally or professionally .. KEEP VALD !!

This is the United States of America not the Dominican Republic.

Two or three more years. He's kidding, right?

He waited until September to start hitting this year. He will hit better next summer when he and his knees are one year older? I think not.

And finally, wait until he sees the money he is offered next season, be it here or elsewhere. He's looking at a minor league contract with incentives. That should go over well with a guy who thought he was worth eight million this year.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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