Ichiro still defying expectations at age 42 as he chases 3,000 hits

The Mariners great, now with the Miami Marlins, is having a vintage season as he approaches one of baseball’s more-hallowed milestones. Seemingly more at ease on and off the field, he plans to play “at least” until age 50.

MIAMI — At times, it seems Ichiro is caught in some kind of bizarre time warp.

His body, at age 42, is as lithe and limber as ever. “If I ever get a belly, I will retire,’’ he tells me, repeating a familiar refrain — but there’s little chance of that, despite Ichiro’s insistence, perhaps playful, that he now eats three cheeseburgers with fries for lunch on the road. I dare say he’ll have a flat stomach at 52, 72 and 92.

When Ichiro steps to the plate, his idiosyncratic gyrations — the grand pinwheel of the bat, culminating with him pointing it at the pitcher almost like a telescope — are precisely the same as in his first Mariners…

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