Sitting on 2,996 after pair of singles, Marlins veteran primed to reach milestone on 10-game homestand
By Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Ichiro Suzuki and the Marlins were scheduled to land back in Miami around 3 a.m. ET on Friday, following a 9-3 win over the Phillies. By the time they hit the road again, there are overwhelming odds it will be with more than just a few wins against National League East and Wild Card rivals.
Suzuki on Thursday slapped a pair of singles to move him within four hits of becoming the 30th Major Leaguer to reach 3,000. He returns home for 10 games at Marlins Park with 2,996 hits. It would not be surprising if he reached the milestone even before a weekend series with the Mets is over. Miami wrapped up a 5-2 road trip to start the second half on Thursday.
"I heard that Donnie [Mattingly, Marlins manager] said I was going play for seven more years," Ichiro said, with a smile, through interpreter Allen Turner. "I should be able to get four more in seven years."
It may not even take seven games. All Mattingly has to do is put Ichiro in the lineup.
In four of his past five starts, Ichiro has recorded at least two hits, including Thursday and a 3-for-4 game on Sunday against the Cardinals. After an infield single in the third, he nearly added another in the sixth, when second baseman Andres Blanco and first baseman Ryan Howard made a nice play to retire him.
It's no secret that the Marlins would like him to reach 3,000 in front of the home crowd -- Mattingly said "probably" with a chuckle, when asked if he'd take him out with a 5-for-5 start to Thursday's game. Mattingly has put Ichiro atop the lineup card only five times in the past 17 games. But he could see that many starts just over this homestand.
"It's been fun," Mattingly said. "It'd be a little different if we knew he was going to play every day, because you know it's just a matter of one day or something like that. But in our situation, it might not be that quick, or it could be quick. But it's been fun. He's been a great guy to watch."
While it's very likely that No. 3,000 will come in Miami, it remains to be seen with what flair Ichiro will do it. Will he join the last two to reach the milestone, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, by putting the ball over the wall? Or will he do it in a manner more apropos to his career, the same way he got his 2,995th and countless other hits -- by legging out an infield single?
Regardless, there is almost certainly history to be made, in addition to a pennant race with games against the Mets and Cardinals, at Marlins Park over the next 10 games.
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.