To put Ichiro Suzuki’s pursuit of 4,000 career hits in perspective, it’s worth noting that he and Derek Jeter are both 39 years old, born roughly eight months apart. Both began their professional careers in 1992 — Ichiro in Japan, Jeter in the minor leagues — before establishing themselves as two of the game’s elite hitters.
Ichiro is one away from 4,000 career hits combining his Major League and Japanese totals.
Jeter has 3,859 hits combining his Major League and minor league totals.
“I didn’t have 4,000 hits in my whole career and you can go back to tee ball,” Joe Girardi said.
For obvious reasons, Ichiro’s pursuit of 4,000 has been overshadowed the past week or so, but now that he’s one away — and some of the off-the-field drama has died down — Ichiro has become a focal point again.
“After I got my first hit, if at that point I said to you guys, ‘My goal is to have 4,000 hits,’ I think everybody would have called me an idiot,” Ichiro said. “Now, after years and years of just getting hits every day, I’ve come to this point. What is important is just going out there and doing what you can do every single day.”
Considering the arc of his career — coming to the U.S., having a historic rookie year, dealing with intense media scrutiny every day — Ichiro might not put extra pressure on himself in this situation. He’s one of the few guys who I would believe when he says he’s not thinking about something as significant as this. Even if it’s not a huge deal here, it’s massive in Japan, and he’s reminded of that every day.
“It is a record that is adding two leagues into one,” Ichiro said. “Those guys (Rose and Cobb) did it in one league. I don’t think you have to put me in that same category as them.”
So does Ichiro have a perfect 4,000th hit in mind?
“Anything that I get a hit with is going to be Ichiro-like,” he said. “Maybe it’s going to be a bunt single, it might be an infield hit, or maybe it’s going to be a home run. The only thing I can tell you that isn’t Ichiro-like is going to be a homer to left field.”
• Derek Jeter is going to rehab with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre beginning tomorrow. He’ll play five innings in the field and will need at least one more Triple-A game before being activated. Girardi said there’s no chance of Jeter being activated Friday in Tampa.
• Nothing specific on how long Jeter is expected to rehab beyond the fact it’s supposed to last at least two games. “He had a workout today, everything went good, ran the bases and he’ll start his rehab tomorrow,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said, we’ll just go day-by-day and see how he responds each day. The plan I think is for him to play five innings in the field tomorrow.”
• Alex Rodriguez is sitting today so that he can play tomorrow. After yesterday’s doubleheader, Girardi didn’t want Rodriguez to also play a day game after a night game, so he had to choose either tonight or tomorrow to give him off. Girardi chose tonight with plans to have Rodriguez back in there for tomorrow’s series finale. No injury issue, just a day.
• Rodriguez confirmed that he’s told his people to dial back the off-the-field talk so that he can focus on baseball. We’ll see how long that lasts, but it’s not surprising that Rodriguez would rather move on to other things. Despite all the other noise, I think Rodriguez really does prefer the baseball side. Even he gets enough of the drama.
• Adam Warren is making his first start of the year and the second Major League start of his career. He was sitting at his locker as casual as ever pregame, looking like it’s just another day. Girardi said 75 pitches would probably be the absolute limit for Warren, and the Yankees might not let him go that far. Girardi said he’s hoping for three or four innings from him.
• David Huff, who was starting in Triple-A — and pitching very well in that role — is considered the second multi-inning guy after Warren. Look for him to come in if Warren leaves with plenty of innings to go.
• Speaking of Triple-A: Veteran infielder Brendan Harris, who was signed a few weeks ago, was given his release today.
• Brett Gardner getting a turn at DH “because he played two (games) in the field” yesterday, according to Girardi.
• Girardi said he’s not sure whether Mariano Rivera is available after pitching in both games yesterday. Said he’ll let Rivera play catch and then check with him. My guess is Girardi would rather avoid him, but he didn’t throw many pitches yesterday, and he hadn’t pitched much recently, so he might not be ruled out completely.
Associated Press photos