Ichiro could make history in San Diego series

Veteran outfielder needs four hits to match Rose's lifetime total

Ichiro could make history in San Diego series

PHOENIX -- History will have to wait on Ichiro.

The 42-year-old outfielder remains four hits from unofficially tying Pete Rose's Major League record of 4,256.

"No matter what age he is, he is playing good defense, he's stealing bases, he's hitting. He's getting big hits for us, he's getting on base. He plays all three outfield spots and he plays them all well," manager Don Mattingly said. "So to me, age at this point is just irrelevant because he's able to do everything everyone else can do, and even better."

Exactly how much playing time Ichiro gets during the three-game series that starts Monday in San Diego is to be determined. The club is being careful not to overuse him.

Ichiro was not in the starting lineup in any of the three games against the D-backs at Chase Field. He went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in Friday's 8-6 victory and notched a pinch-hit single in Saturday's 5-3 loss. He walked in the ninth inning of Sunday's 6-0 loss.

"He's everything you look for in a guy as consistency, the approach, respect and playing the game the right way," Marlins third baseman Martin Prado said. "Beyond the numbers and all of the things he has accomplished, he has done in it a short period of time. I don't think another person can do that. I'm just happy to be on this team and be a part of it."

Ichiro racked up 1,278 hits with the Orix Blue Wave of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and has added 2,974 since beginning his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Overall, he ranks 31st on Major League Baseball's all-time hits list and is just 11 hits away from tying Sam Rice (2,985) for 30th.

"You don't know if Pete would have played over there, what he would have done so it's hard to compare," Mattingly said. "But it's a lot of hits, no matter how you slice it. It's an incredible career if it was just here. It would be incredible the fact that he had another 1,200 hits in Japan. It makes it even more special. It tells you what kind of player he is."

Ichiro also needs only 26 more hits to reach 3,000.

"He's amazing," Marlins right field Giancarlo Stanton said. "The way he goes about his business. He works and dissects the game is unreal."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.