Derek Jeter is only two hits shy of number 3,000. (AARON JOSEFCZYK/REUTERS)

Barring some sort of catastrophe, Jeter will certainly reach the milestone in the near future. But how “near” in that future could very well be delayed by the the coming All Star break.

The Yankees have three more games in their weekend series against the Rays before the break. They will then resume play next Thursday in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The extended delay might only heighten attention on Jeter’s pursuit. With the 12-time All-Star set to start for the American League team, and an HBO camera crew already following the Yankees captain around for a documentary, there aren’t many moments when he won’t be at or near the center of the baseball world’s attention for the forseeable future until he gets that hit.

So what are the odds of him getting it out of the way this weekend? Pretty good actually. Jeter has picked up these past 2,998 hits in 2,361 games for an average of 1.3 hits per game. And while Jeter is having a down year (batting .257 against his career average of .312), he is still averaging over a hit a game in 2011.

They answer may come tonight. The three Rays starters who are schedueled to throw this weekend are Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and James Shields. Jeter has had some success against Shields while Price has had his number. But Jeter has only had two plate appearances against the rookie Hellickson who starts tonight. If Jeter can poach something from him, it may portend the end of the great Jeter 3,000 hit wait sooner than later.