Ichiro Suzuki is going back to the Seattle Mariners, where he spent the first 12 years of his professional career in America.
Seattle was truly home for Ichiro, as he has said many times. The strong Japanese culture in Seattle and the media surrounding the team always strongly followed Ichiro when he was with the team, and already showed their excitement again.
When it was announced that Ichiro would be back with the Mariners on a one-year deal, the media for the team swarmed the team’s spring training facility anticipating his appearance.
It is rumored that Ichiro will wear number 51 again for the team. All of this news was great for the Mariners and fans because of what he meant to the team and the city in his time in Seattle, but what does it mean logistically now?
The Seattle Mariners have a young, athletic, and very talented outfield. Right now, it consists of newly acquired Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Guillermo Heredia, and Ben Gamel.
A four-man rotation for a three-person outfield. The question is, where does Ichiro fit into that mix? Or does he at all?
It is questionable if Heredia and Gamel will be back for the beginning of the season due to injury, so in that case, Ichiro will fill in perfectly and play that third outfield spot for us. However, when one or both of them eventually get healthy and are back, it is questionable where Ichiro will go.
He is 44 years old and obviously not the same player he was in his 27-year-old rookie season with the team. His leadership and experience could be great for that young outfield, but I am unsure if it comes down to it, if the team will carry five outfielders.
Since 2015 in Miami with the Marlins, his plate appearances have dramatically dropped each year. Last year, he only got 215 plate appearances in 136 games.
In a perfect world, Ichiro would play limited games this year with the Mariners but have a good year in terms of production with the time he does play.
He will help bring fans to games at Safeco because everybody remembers what he did and what he meant to the team, and hopefully, he will help the Mariners get back into the playoffs.
After this season, I think it would be the perfect story for Ichiro to retire from Major League Baseball. He is now a Mariner, where he had his best years and where he got 262 hits in one year and had a season where he hit .372.
Everybody remembers Ichiro as a Seattle Mariner, and that is the uniform he should retire in. He will be have had an amazing professional career, and won’t play too long to where he starts to take away from things that he did.