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Ichiro Once Again Itching to Pitch

It was only last year that Ichiro revealed in an interview that pitching is on his list of things to do while in the big leagues. At the time Ichiro said he’d start pitching when he turned 40, but that he’d have to learn a knuckleball. Ichiro also added that if he started pitching now, he’d top out at 95 on the gun. Well, the way I see it, the Mariners could have used him on Sunday. In fact, Ichiro was itching to pitch in the 15-inning game once the Mariners had run out of pitchers:

Once Ichiro Suzuki heard that backup catcher Jamie Burke was about to take the mound, he hustled over to manager Jim Riggleman and volunteered his services.

Burke wound up surrendering the game-winning run as the Mariners lost 2-1 to the Tigers, but only giving up one run to the Tigers lineup isn’t bad at all for a backup catcher. Burke was only clocking 82-86 on the gun (which puts him right up there with Barry Zito), meaning Ichiro probably would have been the best choice. Interestingly enough, the Post-Intelligencer says Willie Bloomquist, Adrian Beltre, and even R.A. Dickey (who started the day before), all volunteered their services. Look Seattle, I know you have a lot of money invested in Ichiro and don’t want to screw around with him, but come on, you’re like 20 games out of first, why not give the fans a thrill? And Ichiro, too — lord knows how badly he wants to get his shot.

Jose Vidro Ruined Ichiro’s Stolen Base Streak

I guess this is kind of a streak that went under the radar, but I thought it was pretty cool. Dating back to last season, Ichiro had stolen 45 straight bases without being caught. That’s pretty impressive when you think about it. He was only 5 away from tying Vince Coleman’s record, that is, until he got thrown out on Thursday night. Jose Vidro was up with nobody out and Ichiro on first in the bottom of the 7th and the Mariners trailing 6-3. Then, in what was an obvious hit-and-run play, Jose Vidro botched the sign, failed to swing, and left Ichiro hanging out to dry. Just check out Vidro’s reaction — he completely drops his head in disgust, fully knowing that he screwed up. And Ichiro isn’t even in the picture when the ball arrives at second base. It’s very clear that it was a botched hit-and-run:

Not surprisingly, the Angels announcers completely missed it. Rex Hudler was going on and on about how good Jose Molina is behind the plate, how tough it is to run on him and Colon. Well, that might be the case in general, but it wasn’t at all the case Thursday night. They played the replay again in the 9th, and Hudler went off again, “out by a mile.” Man Rex, you played the game, you’re supposed to be the analyst. Aren’t these plays just the sort of thing you’re supposed to recognize?

UPDATE: It’s been confirmed by the Seattle Times that it was a busted hit-and-run play

Ichiro Might Try Pitching

Ichiro gave a rare, extended interview to Jon Saraceno of USA Today in which he revealed a lot about himself. In the article, Ichiro says the possibility of leaving the Mariners would be a touchy subject. The entire article is well worth a read if you want to get inside the head of the Mariners outfielder. But there was one part that stood out to me, potentially more than anything else. Ichiro says he’s considering pitching.

“Once I turn 40,” he says, “I can become a pitcher. I’m kind of serious about it. But I’ll have to learn to throw a knuckleball. Right now, I could be a ‘normal’ pitcher,” who can top out at 95 mph with a fastball.

As my buddy GP John said, “How f***ing gangster would that be? Ichiro would immediately be my favorite player.” You know what, that would be a stretch for most players. But Ichiro is unlike most players. He’s special. He takes care of himself better than most players. He stays in incredible shape, and has a tremendous arm. I’ve heard that if Ichiro wanted to change his approach at the plate, he could hit 25 home runs a season — based on the way he clubs in batting practice. Combining all this information makes me think Ichiro could be a valuable pitcher if he chose to. I already was a big Ichiro fan — now, I’m even more of one. How sweet would it be to see Ichiro pitch?

(Thanks to Ballhype and Gaslamp Ball for directing my attention to the article)