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In Angels camp, Vlad as popular as ever

MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Four days after being elected to the Hall of Fame, Vladimir Guerrero returned to the Dominican Republic and sparked a national celebration, with merengue dancers greeting him at the airport, and thousands of compatriots lining the streets to welcome the former Angels slugger back home.

The Dominican Ministry of Sports even organized a caravan to take Guerrero from Santo Domingo to his hometown of Don Gregorio, Nizao. The drive normally takes about an hour, but Guerrero said the trip lasted two and a half hours on that festive day.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Four days after being elected to the Hall of Fame, Vladimir Guerrero returned to the Dominican Republic and sparked a national celebration, with merengue dancers greeting him at the airport, and thousands of compatriots lining the streets to welcome the former Angels slugger back home.

The Dominican Ministry of Sports even organized a caravan to take Guerrero from Santo Domingo to his hometown of Don Gregorio, Nizao. The drive normally takes about an hour, but Guerrero said the trip lasted two and a half hours on that festive day.

"I didn't know that so many people were going to be there," Guerrero said in Spanish on Sunday. "They were saying I should run for president, but I'm not into politics."

Video: Guerrero's throwing arm one of strongest of all time

It's been a month since Guerrero secured his ticket to Cooperstown, but the 42-year-old said his life hasn't changed too much. His daily routine still includes spending time at home with his family and playing dominoes. The only difference is that more people now line up outside his door to ask for financial assistance, as they erroneously believe that his Hall of Fame induction included a sizable bonus.

"Sometimes we tell them that I'm not there, or we tell them to come back later," Guerrero said. "People are there from seven in the morning until noon because they think they gave me money."

Guerrero, who is back in Angels camp as a guest instructor this spring, said he has not started working on the speech that he'll give at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, though he has to submit an outline of sorts by March 10. Guerrero, the first Dominican-born position player to enter the Hall of Fame, said he'd like to use the opportunity to spotlight the contributions of Latino players in baseball.

"I hope to see more Latinos in the Hall of Fame," Guerrero said. "Like I've always said, we're trying to make our communities and countries proud. Not only Dominicans, but all Latin Americans. Many of us leave our hometowns and our countries to come here and work hard."

Guerrero will also be the first player to enter the Hall of Fame with an Angels cap, leading many to wonder if the club will retire his No. 27. There is one wrinkle, however, as the number is currently being used by two-time American League MVP winner Mike Trout.

"I'm happy with how he's been using the number," Guerrero said.

Video: Angels may retire Vlad, Trout's shared No. 27 jersey

The Angels haven't announced any plans to retire Guerrero's number, but if they did, it wouldn't necessarily preclude Trout from continuing to wear No. 27. Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, after all, wore No. 42 for his entire career, even after Major League Baseball retired it in honor of Jackie Robinson.

Trout wears No. 27 because it was the number issued to him when he was first called up to the Majors in 2011, but he said it's taken on more significance now that Guerrero has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

"I know what he did with the Angels," Trout said. "It means a lot to me. When I came up, they gave me 27. It was in my locker. I was a rookie. I didn't want to say anything. I liked the number, and it went from there. Now that he's in the Hall of Fame, it's pretty cool to wear his number. I know what kind of person he is, what he brought to the game and what he brought to the organization."

What if the Angels told him he couldn't wear No. 27 anymore?

"I don't know," Trout said. "I'll have to change, I guess."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels