Ichiro Suzuki has said before he wants to play until he is at least 50 years old. The outfielder who continues to find the Fountain of Youth may fulfill that wish as he has returned to the Seattle Mariners. Suzuki, who continues to climb the all-time hits list, doesn’t appear to be slowing down and will get plenty of opportunities to hit for a franchise he got his start in the majors with.
“I want to be able to help the Seattle Mariners,” Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner on Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at the club’s Spring Training complex. “I want to give it everything I’ve gained, everything I’ve done in my career, I want to give it all right here in Seattle.”
Suzuki had been a free agent. Most recently playing for the Miami Marlins. Suzuki got his 3,000th hit in 2016 on a triple against the Colorado Rockies. Following last season, the Marlins decided they would not pick up his third-year option that would pay him $2 million.
The 44-yearpold has prided himself on being in great shape and takes care of his body. There is no reason to believe he cannot hit the half-century mark during his playing career.
With 26 seasons combined in top-level professional leagues, he has spent the bulk of his career with two teams: nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan, where he began his career, and 12 with Mariners in the United States. After playing for the Mariners, he played two and a half seasons in MLB with the New York Yankees before signing with the Miami Marlins. Ichiro played three seasons with the Marlins before returning to the Mariners in 2018.
Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including MLB’s single-season record for hits with 262. He achieved 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player in history. Between his major league career in both Japan and the United States, Ichiro has the most hits by any player in top-tier professional leagues. He also has recorded the most hits of any foreign-born player in MLB.
In his combined playing time in NPB and MLB, Ichiro has received 17 consecutive selections both as an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, won nine league batting titles and been named Most Valuable Player (MVP) four times. While playing in NPB, he won seven consecutive batting titles and three consecutive Pacific League MVP Awards. In 2001, Ichiro became the first Japanese-born position player to be posted and signed to an MLB club.
He led the American League (AL) in batting average and stolen bases on his way to being named AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP. His presence on the field could be a valuable asset to the Mariners, who have a huge Japanese following.
Per ESPN.com, Ichiro took a physical in Seattle on Monday afternoon, but the deal wasn’t completed until Wednesday. According to ESPN.com, the contract will pay him $750,000, with potential incentives that could get him back to the $2 million he earned last year in Miami.
“The addition of Ichiro gives our team another versatile and athletic outfielder,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways. He’s truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his unquestionable presence is a valuable addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We’re very glad to bring him back home.”
It is believed Suzuki will work out with the team over the next few days before he plays any Spring Training baseball. Per the online story, the Mariners to use him fairly regularly in left field in Ben Gamel’s absence, and he believes Ichiro could be used as much as four to five days a week.