The countdown to 3,000 hits has been on since the season starts, but not necessarily for Adrian Beltre.
The Texas Rangers third baseman entered Wednesday 18 hits shy of the magical number, one that almost guarantees enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. All Beltre knows is that he’s getting closer, and the pursuit is not weighing on him.
“Not yet. It’s still far away,” he said. “I don’t know when, but 18 hits is a long way to go. I’m guessing once it gets closer, maybe. Once I get into single digits, then it’s a more legitimate chance that I get there.”
Beltre asked the media in spring training to not pepper him with constant questions about 3,000, wanting to keep it from becoming a distraction for the team. The questions Wednesday were the first since his request.
He said it would be “awesome” if he were to get No. 3,000 off Felix Hernandez, his former teammate with whom he constantly barks when facing the Seattle Mariners star. It’s possible that Hernandez could start against the Rangers on July 31.
“I would have some bragging rights forever,” Beltre said. “But first I need to start getting some hits consistently so I can have a chance.”
“It’s more important for us to find a way how to get better and put ourselves in better playoff position than what’s going on with me personally,” he said.