OAKLAND -- Even if Ichiro Suzuki does not play another game in his Major League career, he became eligible for the Hall of Fame on Monday night.
The first-inning at-bat he had against the Athletics -- a popup to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff -- gave Ichiro 10 years in the Major Leagues. So whenever he retires, even if it's on Tuesday, he will have qualified for HOF consideration.
Once a player retires, he must wait five years to be considered for HOF candidacy.
Several voters already are on record as saying Ichiro is on the cusp of being a Hall of Famer, citing his MLB record nine consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits. He also holds the single-season hit record -- 262 in 2004.
Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the season opener and scored a run in the ninth inning. It extended his personal hitting streak against Oakland to 21 games, during which he is batting .380 (35-for-92), started on Aug. 24, 2008.
But it is not his longest hitting streak against an opponent.
He had a 26-game streak against the Royals from April 14, 2005, to April 15, 2008, and a 22-gamer against the White Sox from April 27, 2001, to May 11, 2003.