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Joe Girardi marvels at Alex Rodriguez's accomplishment

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees reacts after his

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees reacts after his fifth-inning RBI base hit against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on Friday, June 5, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

With Alex Rodriguez on the verge of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau, manager Joe Girardi isn't thinking about the number being tainted by A-Rod's performance-enhancing drug use.

"To me, it's an accomplishment," Girardi said. "People want to say, is it a milestone? I don't know. But 3,000 hits is a lot of hits."

Rodriguez began Saturday night's game nine hits shy of becoming the 29th player in history to reach 3,000. The last one to do it was Rodriguez's former teammate, Derek Jeter, in 2011.

"It means consistency and longevity to me," Girardi said of the accomplishment. "It's the only way you're going to get 3,000 hits. You could be a fabulous player for 12, 13 years but you're not getting 3,000 hits. You have to do it over a long, long period of time."

That Rodriguez is on the verge of 3,000 hits in early June is the latest reminder of his surprisingly strong return, which few would have foreseen after he missed all of last season serving his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. He will turn 40 next month.

His four-hit game Friday night was his first since 2011 and the 42nd of his career.

"Alex started at a really young age. In a sense, he got a head start when you talk about what age most people start at in the big leagues," Girardi said of Rodriguez, who made his major-league debut in 1994 at 18. "He's been getting a lot of hits for a long period of time. It's got to be very rewarding."

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