Ichiro Suzuki is no longer the first name only sensation that entered the Major Leagues with the Seattle Mariners at 27 after a storied career in Japan.
That was 2001, when he was named American League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year while rapping 242 hits, batting .350 and swiping 56 bases for a Mariners club that won 116 games but fell to the New York Yankees in the postseason.
Yet, at 42, the future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer is just 65 hits away from 3,000 hits. The 10-time All-Star who last hit .300 in 2010 (when he batted .315). After a stint with the New York Yankees that lasted two-plus seasons, Suzuki was a reserve outfielder for the Miami Marlins in 2015, struggling to career-low marks of a .229 average and a .561 OPS, and collecting 91 hits in 398 at-bats. Yet first-year Marlins manager Don Mattingly would like to get the aging veteran who jokingly told reporters he plans to play until he is “at least 50” enough plate appearances for him to reach 3,000 hits.
“I’d like to get him there,” Mattingly told the media this spring. “but we’re here to win, and we’ve got to try to play the guys who put us in the best position to win.”
The Marlins have a solid outfield that includes Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Suzuki is the primary reserve option to spell Ozuna in center field and Stanton in right field. He is batting just .200 (5-for-25) this spring.
If Suzuki reaches 3,000 hits, he will join an elite club. Only Ty Cobb, Paul Molitor, Eddie Collins and Honus Wagner have achieved 3,000 hits, 500 stolen bases and a career .300 average, according to STATS.
Entering this season, Suzuki has 2,935 hits, 498 stolen bases and a .314 career average.