It’s been over five years since Ichiro Suzuki last wore No. 51 for the Seattle Mariners, but that is about to change. Of course, at 44 years old, the future Hall of Famer would assume a much different role for the Mariners in 2018 than he did in 2012.
ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Tuesday morning and spoke about what Ichiro can bring to the Mariners, who are looking for outfield help with three separate players either dealing with injuries or coming back from one.
“He keeps himself in great condition, he’s willing to accept any role at this point in his career, obviously there’s a little bit of a nostalgia fringe benefit I think to him coming back, but I think it’s more sort of a short-term fix,” Crasnick said of Ichiro. “(Mariners general manager) Jerry Dipoto probably didn’t feel like he needed to go out and make a big move because these injuries are sort of minor.”
Ichiro spent the past three seasons with the Miami Marlins, primarily serving as a reserve outfielder, and before that has 2 ½ seasons with the Yankees following his trade from the Mariners. In 2017, Ichiro saw a career-low 215 plate appearances but still finished with 50 hits, including three home runs, and 17 walks.
Though Ichiro’s production has understandably taken a hit in recent years, he’s put a lot of work into staying in playing shape into his mid-40s.
“When you look at him, he looks about the same physically as he always did,” Crasnick said. “That’s the amazing thing about him is with his stretching and his other work that he does he keeps himself incredibly fit. I think at this point of his career he’s more of an extra guy and it’s allowed him to get some milestones, obviously getting to 3,000 hits and doing some other things to cement his place in Cooperstown.”
You can find the full interview with Crasnick in this podcast.