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Ichiro Suzuki still chasing 3,000, looks to be pressing

Ichiro Suzuki is still on the outside looking in with regard to 3,000 hits. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

It seems as if it’s taking a while for Ichiro Suzuki to get from 2,998 to 3,000, doesn’t it?

In fact, once Suzuki reaches 3,000, he will have taken more time to go from his 2,998th hit to his 3,000th hit than any of the 28 players who reached 3,000 since 1900.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the previous mark was shared by Willie Mays and Honus Wagner, who had five days between their 2,998th hit and their 3,000th hit.

Ichiro got his 2,998th hit on July 28, but is 0-for-10 since. He is hindered by not getting at-bats every day, meaning he has to take advantage of pinch-hitting opportunities.

He seems to be pressing a bit. Before this slump, he was swinging at 42 percent of pitches. But of the last 53 pitches he has seen, he has swung at 31 -- 58 percent, or nine pitches more than he would have been expected to swing at -- including 12 that were out of the strike zone.

This weekend, the Miami Marlins are at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Ichiro is hitless in his last nine at-bats there. On Friday, the Marlins face left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Suzuki is hitting .361 (13-for-36) against lefties this season but has started against one only four times this season -- and not since June 29.

Remembering other waits

This brings to mind a few players whose quest to reach a milestone took a little more time than anticipated.

In 2003, Roger Clemens came up empty in three starts before getting his 300th win. After getting routed by his former team, the Red Sox, Clemens and the Yankees' bullpen blew a 7-1 lead against the Tigers, then the bullpen let him down again -- failing to hold a seventh-inning lead against the Cubs. Clemens got No. 300 in his next start, against the Cardinals.

Clemens had nothing on Early Wynn, who got his 299th win for the White Sox in September 1962 but lost his next three. The season ended with him one shy of 300. Wynn failed to make the White Sox the next season and signed with the Indians in June. He failed to get his 300th win in three starts and a relief experience before finally reaching the mark July 13, 1963.

Among hitters, one example familiar to some might be Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter’s pursuit of 300 home runs in 1988. Carter hit his 299th home run May 21. He then went through a 55-game homerless stretch before hitting his 300th at Wrigley Field in August.

More recently, Alex Rodriguez went nine days between his 499th home run and 500th home run in 2007. However, Rodriguez got his 3,000th hit the day after he recorded 2,998 and 2,999.