Magglio picks up 2,000th career hit
Outfielder reaches milestone vs. Pavano in fourth inning
DETROIT -- Magglio Ordonez became the sixth Venezuelan-born player to reach 2,000 career hits on Thursday, when he lined a fourth-inning single to left field off Twins starter Carl Pavano in the Tigers' 3-0 win.
It was the kind of solid line drive that has characterized Magglio's hitting for much of his career -- nothing necessarily fancy, but solid contact off good pitching. It came 13 years after his first big league hit, a line-drive single to right-center off fellow Venezuelan Ramon Garcia on Aug. 29, 1997.
Ordonez remembered that one well. He wasn't too picky about how his 2,000th hit came about. All he wanted was that it not be an infield single. If it wasn't legitimate, he joked, he'd call to try to make it an error.
Ordonez's milestone hit was clean, as was the eighth-inning double that followed it. He received a long standing ovation after the first hit that picked up momentum until it extended into Miguel Cabrera's at-bat.
"It's huge, because there are only 260 players who have done it in more than 100 years of baseball," Ordonez said after the game. "I'm happy for me, my family, my country and my team. This means a lot to me after everything I went through last year."
The way Ordonez seemingly struggled to find his comfort zone at the plate early last season, some wondered whether he would be in a Tigers uniform to enjoy this. He hit just .241 last April, and though he recovered to bat .315 in May, his struggles in June and July while his wife was undergoing surgery and treatment for breast cancer left him on pace for what would've been the lowest batting average of his career.
Ven(ezuela), vidi, vici
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Instead, Ordonez batted .375 after the All-Star break, including .439 in September and October, to finish at .310 for the year and reinforce his honor as one of the better pure hitters in the game. Now at age 36, he's enjoying one of his better starts in years, entering the final weekend in April with a .310 average.
Ordonez joins Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, Andres Galarraga, Dave Concepcion and Bobby Abreu as Venezeulan players to reach 2,000 Major League hits.
"That's obviously a nice milestone for a player," manager Jim Leyland said before the game. "Tremendous accomplishment, obviously."
Of those 2,000 hits, 220 have come against the Twins, one shy of his high of 221 against the Royals. He also has 211 career hits against the Indians, a consistent balance for someone who has spent his entire 14-year Major League career in the American League Central between the Tigers and White Sox.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.