Where EAST meets the Northwest
ICHIRO RETURNS. Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners arrives at a news
conference at Seattleís spring training baseball complex in Peoria, Arizona
after signing a one-year contract with the team he played for between 2001 and
2012. Ichiro had 2,533 hits with the Mariners, including 262 in 2004 when he set
the big-league season record. (AP Photo/Matt York)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #6 (March 19, 2018), page 8.
Mariners bring back 44-year-old Ichiro Suzuki
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) ó Ichiro Suzukiís wish was granted. He is back in the
familiar white and blue jersey of the Seattle Mariners.
"Even in the offseason when I would go back to Japan, I always came back to
Seattle. This was my home ... has always been my home," the 44-year-old
outfielder said through a translator after finalizing a $750,000, one-year
contract. "Somewhere deep inside, I wanted to return and wear this uniform
Almost six years away, Ichiro returned to help patch an injury-depleted
outfield on the team he played for from 2001 to 2012. The 10-time All-Star can
earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses based on plate
appearances: $200,000 each for 150 and each additional 50 through 350, and
$250,000 for 400.
Suzuki earned the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP with the Mariners and
won a pair of AL batting titles. He was traded to the New York Yankees midway
through 2012, played parts of three seasons with the Yankees, then spent three
seasons with Miami.
He has a .312 average and 3,080 hits, not including the 1,278 hits he amassed
in nine seasons in Japan. Suzuki appeared in 136 games last year for the Miami
Marlins and hit .255 with a .318 on-base percentage.
"I still have things that I want to do and I want to accomplish," Ichiro
said. "Iím really thinking about this year and what the Seattle Mariners need,
what I can do to help. Everything that Iíve gained, everything that Iíve done in
my career, I want to just give it all right here in Seattle."
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said discussions about Suzukiís return
intensified in early March, when the clubís injury situation became a greater
"It did not take very long to put a deal together that brought Ichiro back
home," Dipoto said, adding that Ichiroís presence will help a young outfield and
veteran Dee Gordon, who is playing center field for the first time.
"Itís huge for our club and our ability to step forward," Dipoto said.
Projected left fielder Ben Gamel is sidelined for at least a month with a
strained oblique muscle, Right fielder Mitch Haniger is dealing with a hand
injury that has limited his activity for a couple of weeks, and Guillermo
Heredia is still in the final stages of recovery from offseason shoulder
Ichiro underwent a physical in Seattle. His return is similar to the
Marinersí reunion with Ken Griffey Jr. in 2009 that was good for one year but
had an ugly conclusion.
Seattle has significant concerns about depth in the outfield. Other options
were available, including free agents Jose Bautista, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jon
"Bringing him in, what he can do on the field, still think heís got plenty
left in the tank there," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "What he adds in
the clubhouse I think is very, very valuable." Suzuki is slated to play left
Suzuki had 2,533 hits with the Mariners, including 262 in 2004 when he set
the big-league season record. His trade to New York during the 2012 season was a
stunning conclusion to his time in Seattle, but gave him a chance to play in the
postseason for the first time since his rookie season.
Ichiro reunites with former Yankees teammates Robinson Cano and David Phelps,
and he played with Gordon and Phelps in Miami. Third baseman Kyle Seager,
pitcher Felix Hernandez, and hitting coach Edgar Martinez, were his teammates in
Seattle before he was traded.
A stall in the Marinersí spring training clubhouse awaited Ichiro, situated
between journeyman outfielder Kirk Niewenhuis and starting shortstop Jean
Segura. The team shop at the Peoria Sports Complex was already stocked with
shirts and jerseys bearing Suzukiís No. 51.
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