TORONTO -- As Mark DeRosa rounded the bases on Saturday for the 100th home run of his Major League career, his thoughts immediately turned to his late father, Jack.
"It meant more to me than people will ever realize," DeRosa said. "I wish my dad could've been here. I know he would be proud -- that was the first thing I thought of.
"I didn't think I'd get to that number after I hurt my wrist and [didn't hit] a home run for three years. And not knowing if you'd be serviceable enough to stay in the big leagues not driving the baseball. I'm proud of the fact that I was able to hang around long enough for it to correct itself, and to do it. But I thought about my dad."
On a cutter from Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, the Blue Jays infielder sent the ball into the bullpen in left field for his seventh home run of the year and reached the century mark for his career.
After clearing the fences only once since 2010, the homer became even more special.
"I drove down to [Spring Training in Dunedin, Fla.] not knowing what I was going to be like," DeRosa said. "So to hit my 100th homer, and to feel like it matters when I'm in the lineup, means a lot."
The 38-year-old was bit of a late bloomer when it came to power numbers. DeRosa hit 44 of his home runs in a span of two years, mostly with the Cubs, in 2008 and '09 when he was in his 30s.
After that nice run, the power numbers dried up, thanks in large part to surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist in 2010, something that he later said was a "total failure."
Thus for the veteran, this milestone is more than just a number.
"For me, more redemption from being hurt, losing my dad, and that type of stuff, and staying with it," DeRosa said. "So when I rounded the bases, I don't know if they time it, but I know I took a little bit longer than I normally do. I feel like I owed it to myself.
"And for my dad. My dad was a proud man. He always wanted me to get my respect in the game. He was big on respect. I feel like that number, although small to some people, others who have played in the league a long time know that it's a milestone for hitters."