SAN DIEGO -- The closer Ichiro Suzuki gets to milestones, the bigger his media following becomes. About 50 Japanese media members were on hand Monday to watch the 42-year-old sensation inch closer to another significant benchmark.
Ichiro had three hits, scored two runs and had an RBI in the Marlins' 13-4 win over the Padres at Petco Park. After he slapped a single down the third-base line in the eighth inning, he moved 23 hits shy of 3,000, and one away from matching a standard reached only by Pete Rose.
When you combine the 1,278 hits Ichiro had playing nine seasons in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave, Ichiro sits at 4,255 professional hits.
MLB doesn't recognize combined standards, and Ichiro's number isn't rewriting the record books. Nonetheless, to accumulate so many hits is a major achievement.
Afterward, Ichiro shrugged off his pursuit of Rose as just another day at the park.
"I think just the people that are watching are the ones that are really thinking about it," Ichiro said through his interpreter. "I'm just out there doing what I need to do and what I can do."
To produce at this level in his 16th Major League season is nothing short of amazing. Ichiro also made the defensive play of the game for Miami, running down Matt Kemp's drive to right-center with two on for the Padres in the fifth.
"It's been cool to be a part of watching him this year," Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "I was a fan right away of his. Watching him play and now getting to see this up close is nice to see. All the Japanese players are so well prepared. They love the game and the way they treat the game is really special to watch. It's been fun to have him."
Ichiro raised his batting average to .350 after his 3-for-4 night.
He made the start in right field because Giancarlo Stanton is struggling and Mattingly gave him a breather. Stanton is expected to start in right field Tuesday.
It's unclear whether Ichiro will be in the lineup because Mattingly said he will write that out Tuesday.
Mattingly has been getting the best use out of Ichiro when using him sparingly and staying with him when he's been hot.
Twice this year, Ichiro has reached safely five times. In baseball history, just 15 times has a player age 42 or above reached five times. He also did it May 21 against the Nationals (4-for-4 with a walk).
The media frenzy will follow until Ichiro passes Rose.
"There are, I guess, a little more media that's here now, so hopefully I can get it fast so that they can go back home," Ichiro said.
Once 4,256 is eclipsed, the next milestone will be 2,985, held by Sam Rice, who is 30th on MLB's all-time hit list.
More names will follow until he is at 3,000.
"I see people that I don't know -- the media that's here," Ichiro said. "I'm just going out and doing what I can."
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.