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Twins' Cruz joins baseball elite with 400th career homer

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates at home plate after hitting his 400th career home run in the 4th inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Kansas City Royals (AFP Photo/Sam Wasson)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Minnesota's Nelson Cruz belted his 400th career home run Sunday, becoming the 57th Major League Baseball player to reach the milestone in the Twins' 12-8 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Designated hitter Cruz, just the ninth player from the Dominican Republic to reach 400 career homers, turned on a first-pitch fastball from Royals relief pitcher Gabe Speier, belting it over the fence in right center field.

It was his 40th home run of the season, making him the third player to reach that plateau at age 39 or older, joining Barry Bonds, who hit 45 at 39 in 2004, and Hank Aaron, who slugged 40 at 39 in 1973.

Cruz didn't hit 30 homers in a season until he was 28 -- in 2009.

"Growing up, I never thought to be able to hit that many home runs," Cruz said earlier this week as the milestone loomed. "It's definitely a blast to be a part of baseball history. So it's just, I guess, one season at a time, grow to the moment."

Six of Cruz's best seven offensive seasons have come since 2014, when he posted the first of his four 40-homer campaigns.