CHICAGO -- Ichiro Suzuki could reach the milestone of 3,000 career major league hits when the Miami Marlins play a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field starting on Monday.
The 16-year major league veteran is two hits shy of the mark, which 29 other players have achieved. Suzuki, 42, eclipsed Pete Rose's career record with his 4,257th hit between the majors and Japan on June 15. He is hitting .325 after 88 games this year.
Suzuki typically does not face left-handers, but the Cubs are starting a right-hander Monday, Kyle Hendricks.
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"If you're at the end of your career and you are limping toward that number, the goal is just to get to it," Suzuki told ESPN The Magazine. "But for me, when you are part of a team, you're out there just playing baseball and you (just happen to) get to that number. I am not limping to that number. I am playing the game, and I happen to get to that number because that's where I am."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon expressed his support for Suzuki, and saying he is unsure why the hitter's quest is receiving little fanfare.
"He's done it on two different worlds, man," Maddon said. "He's been the best hitter in both places. Playing a lot against him with the Angels (when he was) with Seattle, this guy was an absolute force.
"Maybe it's slowing down a bit, maybe because of that people aren't just giving it as much emphasis, but what he's done or what he's doing right now is pretty remarkable. Japanese baseball is very good, too. I would imagine in Japan there's going to be a ton of enthusiasm about it, but what he's done is pretty remarkable."
The number of Cubs relievers available to face the Marlins, and possibly Suzuki, could be limited Monday. Chicago used seven relievers Sunday night in a 7-6, 12-inning victory over the Seattle Mariners. Maddon said he hopes Hendricks can provide a long outing.
Heading into the series against Miami, the Cubs tweaked their rotation to give their starters some rest. Hendricks' start was pushed back a day after the Cubs selected the contract of left-hander Brian Matusz from Triple-A Iowa to start Sunday against the Mariners because he could have opted out if he wasn't promoted.
Hendricks (9-7, 2.39 ERA) is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins. In his last start, he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday in a loss to the Chicago White Sox. Since May 22, Hendricks is 7-4 with a 1.78 ERA in 13 appearances.
"I'm feeling really good in my mechanics right now, so I don't have too many technical thoughts going on," Hendricks said. "When it gets down to that, it's basically just simplifying your thoughts. I'm getting consistent work in during my bullpens between starts, and then having a consistent mindset every time I take the mound. Simplify everything, focus on making a good pitch -- don't focus on the results necessarily -- and just take everything one pitch at a time."
For the Marlins, left-hander Adam Conley (7-5, 3.38) will start. He went 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts in July. In road games, he is 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA.
Marlins first baseman Justin Bour is expected to return from the disabled list after recovering from a right ankle sprain.