ARLINGTON, Texas - Sitting home in the Dominican Republic last summer without a place to play, Sammy Sosa knew he was too close to an elite mark not to come back.
Still, since being given that chance by his original team, Sosa has insisted he wanted more than the dozen home runs he needed to reach 600. He even mentioned 700 after rejoining the Texas Rangers this spring.
Now that Sosa is the fifth member of the 600-homer club after finally reaching the milestone Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs, how many more can he hit?
"Definitely, I think it's going to be more easy (now). I don't have to go out there and try to hit two home runs in one at-bat," Sosa said, without giving a specific goal. "Now I can go out there and stick with the same game plan that I have and focus."
No. 600 was only the second homer in 22 games for Sosa, who wasn't in the lineup for the series finale against the Cubs on Thursday afternoon - the 18th anniversary of his first career homer for the Rangers off Roger Clemens at Fenway Park in Boston.
"A lot of people doubted me, (thought) that I would probably be home by now," Sosa said. "I've got to continue to put up numbers, play good and see what happens when my career ends."
At 38 years, 220 days, Sosa was older than Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays when they hit their 600th homers. But only Ruth's 2,044 games to reach the mark were fewer than Sosa's 2,302.
"As long as he's productive, he can keep on playing," said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, one of his former teammates.
"He's not the Sammy Sosa of 10 years ago, six, eight years ago. But he's productive. He's got the homers and RBI. Any team would take that.
"If he can do that, he can play, simple as that."
How many homers he hits obviously depends on how long he gets to play. After Sosa's year out of the game, general manager Jon Daniels signed him to a one-year minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
"It just depends on JD, how many years he's going to sign me," Sosa said with a smile and a glance toward Daniels. "Definitely, Texas is the team that gave me the opportunity. I fit perfect here, I'm happy here. On top of that, I'm doing my job."
While Sosa is hitting only .242 in his 62 games, he started Thursday seventh in the American League with 53 RBI - already eight more than he had in 102 games for Baltimore in 2005.
Sosa's induction into the 600-homer club took considerably longer than most would have thought when he was playing his last game for the Cubs in 2004 and was only 26 homers shy.
But there was that miserable year with the Orioles, when he testified before Congress about possible steroid use in baseball during spring training then hit .221 with 14 homers.