Ichiro Suzuki is no stranger to great plays in the field. He can impress you with his cannon arm or his brilliant catches as he’s shown time and time again. Just a few years ago in Seattle, Ichiro climbed the right field wall to rob Garret Anderson of a home run (catch is at the end of that video). On Monday night, he tried to one-up that catch when Kendry Morales launched one deep to the right field stands. Check it out (apologies for the weak camera phone vid):
Dude, I know things got pretty bad for the Mariners this year, so much so that Richie Sexson had to do some mound charging to help everyone forget how much he sucked, but infighting? Ganging up on a teammate? Seriously? This tid-bit from the Seattle Times via the wealth of news that is Rotoworld has me extremely concerned:
“I just can’t believe the number of guys who really dislike [Ichiro],” said one clubhouse insider. “It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him.”
The coaching staff and then-manager John McLaren intervened when one player was overheard talking — in reference to Ichiro — about wanting to “knock him out.” A team meeting was called to clear the air.
It was a repeat of May 2007, when Mike Hargrove was in charge and a team meeting had to be called during a series at Tampa Bay because of clubhouse bickering over Ichiro being a “selfish” player.
Now I might not be in that clubhouse, but as far as I can tell, Ichiro’s done a pretty consistent job of performing at a high level ever since he came to the U.S. Raul Ibanez is pretty much the only other Mariner about whom you can say the same. So if there are any concerns about guys not being “team players,” maybe those doing the bullying should have focused on picking up their offensive and defensive games to Ichiro’s level. If they did, I’m guessing the Mariners would be doing just fine. By the way, it’s not to say I couldn’t see where Ichiro would rub people as a selfish player, because I could, but still.
UPDATE: J.J. Putz calls the anonymous source a coward
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.
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 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?