Who will be next to reach 3,000 hits?

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Derek Jeter just became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club. He is the first player to reach 3,000 hits since Craig Biggio during the 2007 season.

Now that history has been made, it’s time to wonder who will get there next.

Removing Jeter from the equation, here’s the list of the current active leaders in hits (their ages in parentheses):

Ivan Rodriguez (39) – 2,842

Omar Vizquel (44) – 2,831

Alex Rodriguez (35) – 2,762

Johnny Damon (37) – 2,662

Chipper Jones (39) – 2,565

Vladimir Guerrero (36) – 2,513

Miguel Tejada (37) – 2,353

Bobby Abreu (37) – 2,343

Ichiro Suzuki (37) – 2,343

Todd Helton (37) – 2,319

Edgar Renteria (34) – 2,284

Jim Thome (40) – 2,239

Magglio Ordonez (37) – 2,107

Carlos Lee (35) – 2,057

Orlando Cabrera (36) – 2,020

Scott Rolen (36)  – 2,001

Adrian Beltre (32) – 1,985

Albert Pujols (31) – 1,979

Yes, Pudge is next in line. I briefly went over his case yesterday, but with his career on the decline, he would likely need to hang on for at least a couple more seasons in a backup role to have a realistic chance. I doubt he’ll get there, nor do I think he will be next. You’ll see that Pudge shares a lot in common with many of the names on this list. Not surprisingly, the great majority of them are aging veterans in the twilight of their careers. Even someone like Ichiro, who once looked like a lock, is beginning to show some early signs of decline.

Alex Rodriguez still appears to be the favorite to reach 3,000 hits next, even with today’s news about his knee. We may have to get used to seeing him play 120 games per season, but I think he stands a decent chance of getting there during the 2013 season. 38 more hits in 2011 would put him at 2,800 going into next season.

I wouldn’t rule out Johnny Damon, either. He’s having a resurgent season with the Rays and is currently on pace for 166 hits. That would give him 2,737 hits going into next season. Not impossible. You’ll notice that Albert Pujols is the youngest player on this list. That’s important, even though his numbers have been merely mortal this season. It’s worth noting that Miguel Cabrera, who isn’t on this list, has 1,497 hits at the age of 28. We have to at least take his past drinking and personal problems into account when talking about career longevity, but he’s on pace to charge up this list in future seasons.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.