Former Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki is now just one hit away from tying Pete Rose's all-time record of 4,256 hits in professional baseball.
One hit. At age 42.
This, after getting three hits and scoring two runs in the Marlins' 13-4 win over the Padres yesterday, raising his batting average to .350.
Major League Baseball won't consider it a record, because Ichiro earned 1,278 of those hits while playing in Japan. And the man whose mark he's about to eclipse is among those quibbling about the milestone.
"It sounds like in Japan, they're trying to make me the Hit Queen," said Rose. "The next thing you know, they'll be counting his high-school hits."
Arizona batting coach Mark Grace is among those who beg to differ.
"Shame on us for not making a bigger deal out of it," he told USA Today of Ichiro's looming feat. "That's huge. I'm in awe of the guy."
Even without his hits in Japan, the former Mariners rightfielder and 2001 Rookie of the Year is just 23 hits shy of 3,000 in the major leagues. He hit 2,533 for Seattle while batting .322 over 12 years.
Before this season, I thought age had finally eroded Ichiro's skills. Last year he batted just .229 for the Marlins. But this year the man is flashing his old Mariners form, lashing singles and snagging deep drives to rob opposing hitters.
Don't be surprised if Seattle sports radio fills with fan chatter about reacquiring Ichiro for a final fling. He plans to play to age 50, and his Miami contract expires after this season, with a team option for 2017. Read about Ichiro in the USA Today story that appeared in today's Salem Statesman Journal.