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Craig Biggio, the last to reach 3,000 in June 2007, understands how those last few can be the hardest.

“I was just grinding and working and not thinking about the number and just going out there playing and trying to win baseball games,” the former Houston star said. “Then you get your hits along the way, scratch some off and finally get there. It’s an exciting time.”

When he does add Mr. 3,000 to the list of nicknames he’s earned _ Captain Clutch, Mr. November _ Jeter will be in some good company, at least until his next hit. He will tie Roberto Clemente, whose namesake award he won for excellence on the field and service off it in 2009.

“That’s quite a welcome to the club,” Charles Jeter said. “Not only in terms of baseball accomplishments but for his legacy.”

Once thought to have a chance at becoming just the third player with 4,000 hits, a more realistic number may be 3,500 _ only five have done that.

“That’s ways off,” Winfield said. “There’s a lot that can happen.”


AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle, Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., Mike Fitzpatrick in New York and Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.