Pierre tips cap to Ichiro's milestone

Pierre tips cap to Ichiro's milestone

Pierre tips cap to Ichiro's milestone

MIAMI -- The answer will never be known, but Juan Pierre certainly has a strong opinion.

Pierre firmly believes if Ichiro Suzuki's career path was different he could have flirted with reaching 4,000 MLB hits.

Instead, Suzuki started playing in his native Japan, and his combined total is being discussed.

For the Yankees on Wednesday night, Suzuki collected his 4,000th professional hit, counting his days in Japan and the big leagues.

If Suzuki played his entire career in the Majors, could he have challenged Pete Rose's record of 4,256?

"He would be right on Pete Rose," Pierre said. "I don't know if he would actually get him. But no doubt, he could get 4,000. My hat is off to him. That is an incredible feat. I never played over there in Japan. It's not easy to get hits anywhere."

Since his rookie season with the Mariners in 2001, Suzuki has 2,722 hits, tops of any player in that span.

Pierre also is up there in total hits for his generation. He has 2,209 in his career, which includes two stints with the Marlins.

Since 2001, Pierre has the fifth-most hits 2,147. Second on the list is Albert Pujols (2,347), followed by Michael Young (2,344) and Derek Jeter (2,300).

Earlier in his career, Pierre paid close attention to what Suzuki was doing because both were leadoff hitters who slapped out singles and didn't walk much.

"Ichiro was getting not just 200 hits, but 220, 230, 260," Pierre said. "I think he can get to 3,000 hits here, if he plays a couple of more years. He could get 150 hits a year, on a bad year."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter