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Cabrera earns spot in Venezuelan lore

Cabrera earns spot in Venezuelan lore

ANAHEIM -- Miguel Cabrera hit his 200th home run in his 1,000th career game on Sunday in Oakland. At this rate, and at his age, he's going to have plenty more milestones ahead.

By the time he's done, he could well be, statistically, the best Venezuelan hitter ever.

"He's going to break a lot of records," fellow countryman Magglio Ordonez said on Monday. "He's only 26, and you see all the numbers. It's very impressive."

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Cabrera's homer made him the fifth Venezuelan player to reach 200 in the Major Leagues. Tony Armas is next on the list with 251, followed by Bobby Abreu with 252 and Magglio Ordonez's 275. But the top name on the list is the top name among Venezuelan hitters, Andres Galarraga. He hit 399 home runs over his 19 Major League seasons.

Cabrera's homer on Sunday bought him more than halfway there in less than seven full seasons. That's what makes his milestone feel more like a milepost than a career achievement.

Still, Cabrera isn't trying to think that far ahead.

"That's wonderful," Cabrera said of the mark Monday, "but right now, I don't think about that. Right now, I'm focused on other things. We're trying to get to the playoffs. We've got that in our hands, so we have to keep playing hard, keep working for that. After the season, I'll think about that. But this season, I'm worried a lot more about this division."

Even so, there's a level of respect that's unmistakable when Cabrera, or most Venezuelan players, talk about Galarraga and his standards. Galarraga served as a coach on the Venezuelan team that reached the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic this past spring.

"That, to me, is an honor," Cabrera said of his mark. "That's a long time away. That takes a lot of years to happen like that. I have to be healthy every year. I try hard to be able to play every day. Right now, you have to take it step by step.

"We all respect Galarraga, what he did for Venezuela. When you have a chance to do something like that, you feel proud when somebody tells you that you can reach that number. But it's only possible when you keep going and try to do what you do every day."

To many who watch Cabrera day in and day out, such as Ordonez, it's more than possible. He has already granted him one honor.

"He's now the No. 1 [current] player in Venezuela, Miguel," Ordonez said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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