Ichiro turning back clock at age 42

Marlins outfielder now 40 hits shy of 3,000 in MLB career

Ichiro turning back clock at age 42

MIAMI -- Each plate appearance is reason to celebrate, and the Marlins are certainly rejoicing the resurgence of Ichiro Suzuki, the ageless 42-year-old bringing youthful enthusiasm to Miami.

Ichiro slapped out four more hits Monday night, and they were meaningful in the Marlins' 7-6 comeback victory over the Rays at Marlins Park. His big night bumped up his career hit total to 2,960, 40 shy of 3,000. Ichiro is now four hits shy of Sam Crawford (2,964) for 31st place all-time, according to Elias.

At a time the Marlins could be lamenting being without their regular left fielder, Christian Yelich, Ichiro has become the super sub the organization expected when they offered him an extension after last season.

Ichiro is now 25-for-60 (.417) this year at the plate.

"He's just amazing," manager Don Mattingly said.

Martin Prado, who delivered the game-winning RBI with his grounder back to the mound, has been a teammate of Ichiro's the past two years in Miami and before that with the Yankees. He's seen special things from Ichiro before.

"I'm wishing he can get a hit every at-bat," Prado said. "That's impossible. He's a professional. We all respect him and we're just rooting for him every time."

Since starting to fill in for Yelich on Saturday, Ichiro is 10-for-13, including two four-hit games. It's his most hits in a three-game span since collecting 11 from June 6-8, 2006.

"I feel normal," Ichiro said. "It was a baseball game tonight. It was a tough game, but you just felt like you were playing the game of baseball. That's just how it felt for me today."

The Rays took a two-run lead in the first, but Miami responded with three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Ichiro led off with his first of three hits off lefty Matt Moore and came around to score on Prado's RBI double.

He singled again in the second inning and had an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Miami trailed, 6-5, in the eighth inning when Ichiro singled off lefty Enny Romero, his fourth hit of the night off a lefty. He entered the night 0-for-3 against southpaws.

"When you think about it, we shouldn't be talking about his age," Mattingly said. "The way he is swinging the bat has just been kind of amazing. He's fun to watch."

"I have to concentrate on being ready when I'm called," Ichiro said. "Obviously, I'm not out there every day, so I don't have time to really study the history of all the players. But I'm just trying to prepare myself to being ready, so when my name is called, I'm ready."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.