Pounding out three straight hits on a night he made history, the Brother Elephants’ Chen Guan-ren accomplished career hit No. 600 on Tuesday evening at Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City.
The Elephants slugger became the fastest player to reach the 600-hit plateau in CPBL history, hitting it in his 473rd game, surpassing the previous mark of 510 games set by Lamigo great and two-time defending home-run champ Lin Chih-sheng.
“I’d like to thank my father for his help with my game since I was a kid,” Chen said after Tuesday night’s contest.
He also thanked the Elephants coaching staff for keeping him in the lineup through a down year last season, in which he batted a career-low of .279 with four homers and 53 RBIs, giving him a chance to accomplish the astonishing feat.
An epitome of consistency, the sixth-year outfielder out of Taipei Physical Education College hit over .300 in four of his first five seasons, with a career batting average of .333 through last night, making him one of the most feared hitters in the league.
He came on strong on the professional stage in 2006 after signing with the Elephants for NT$1.5 million (US$51,800), despite a mediocre amateur career, by winning the batting title and the Rookie of the Year honor with a .349 batting average, 10 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Chen followed his spectacular rookie campaign with a solid sophomore season by hitting an impressive .358 before collecting a league-high 139 hits in 2008.
If there is one thing he could improve on, he said, it would be his lack of home run production with only 24 in five-and-a-half seasons.
“That’s [lack of homers] something I’d like to work on, even though I’d rather get two or three hits a game, than hitting one out,” Chen was quoted as saying in a local Chinese-language newspaper yesterday.
With fellow slugger Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min out through next month and possibly longer, Chen will have to pick up the slack in run production if the Elephants were to make a run to defend their CPBL title.