Ichiro Suzuki triples to join MLB's 3,000-hit club

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has become the 30th player in Major League Baseball history -- and the first from Japan -- to join the 3,000-hit club.

The 42-year-old reached the milestone Sunday with a triple off the wall against relieverChris Rusin in the seventh inning at Colorado. Suzuki joined Paul Molitor as the only players to get their 3,000th hits with triples.

"I wanted to see it go over the fence, but after I heard that Paul Molitor was the other person to do it, I was glad it didn't go over," Suzuki said after sharing champagne with his teammates in the clubhouse after a 10-7 victory over the Rockies. "I have a special relationship with him, and having something like this, that is the same thing he accomplished, makes it more special."

Suzuki reached third base standing up and was hugged by third base coachLorenzo Bundy before his teammates came out of the dugout to greet him.

"We gave him a big hug and told him he deserved it," said Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, who was the first player to reach Suzuki as he stood on third. "That's what you're supposed to do: show him his respect, show him that we respect his milestone."

Suzuki joins the 3,000-hit club 119 years after its charter member, Cap Anson, got there with a single in 1897. Of the 30 players on the list, Suzuki is just the fourth born outside the 50 states. He joinsRafael Palmeiro (Cuba) and Hall of Famers Rod Carew (Panama) and Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico) in that regard.

Among active players, only Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has more hits than Suzuki.

Suzuki said the burden was lifted with his 3,000th hit, but he got emotional when told that fans at Safeco Field stuck around following the Mariners' home game to watch Suzuki attempt to get his milestone hit.

"I don't have words for how wonderful that is for them to show that and support me," said Suzuki, who collected at least 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons with the Mariners. "To have that special moment to share with the fans there, I don't have any words how grateful I am."

Suzuki also has a fan in manager Don Mattingly, who is in his first season as Miami's skipper.

"For me, it's been an honor to watch him play, an honor to have managed him," Mattingly said. "He honors our game the way he plays, the way he prepares. Everything he does is a tribute to the game of baseball. He shows our guys how you're supposed to do it."

Suzuki, the 13th left-handed hitter to collect 3,000 hits, reached the milestone after playing nine years of pro ball in Japan. He had 1,278 hits there, a total that does not count toward his 3,000 in MLB. Earlier this year, Suzuki collected his 4,257th professional hit (Japan and U.S.) and passed Pete Rose for the all-time lead.

Suzuki didn't debut in MLB until he was 27, which makes him the oldest player at the time of his major league debut to join the 3,000-hit club. In Japan, Suzuki was a seven-time All-Star, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, a three time MVP and a national treasure while playing for the Orix Blue Wave. He won seven straight batting titles and is in the country's Hall of Fame.

Suzuki said he still wants to see more Japanese players make the leap to MLB.

"It hasn't been too long since Japanese players have started to come over here to play in the major leagues. There are still very few," Suzuki said. "I've been able to get some hits. We're not there yet. There's still more that we need to do as Japanese players.

"Hopefully this 3,000th hit will bring that bridge closer, and maybe we'll be able to have the Japanese players and have the fans understand Japanese baseball is good baseball. Hopefully this did that and bring that closer."

Suzuki is revered by many in the United States, too, by virtue of his 10 Gold Gloves, 10 All-Star appearances, two batting titles and one MVP award. He led the American League in hits seven times, and he led the majors in steals in 2001.

He is just the fourth player with 3,000 hits and 10 Gold Glove awards, joining Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline. His streak of 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons is the most by any player in MLB history. When his Japan and MLB years are combined, Suzuki has earned 17 consecutive Gold Gloves and has been named to 17 straight All-Star Games.

Suzuki finished 1-for-4 with a walk Sunday.

Information from ESPN contributor Walter Villa and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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