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Mariners notebook: A good day for Ichiro, pitching updates and more

Ichiro Suzuki will fill in at DH for the Mariners with Nelson Cruz and Ryon Healy out. (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Earlier this week in Ichiro’s introductory press conference – or re-introductory press conference – Ichiro talked about experiences over the last 5 1/2 years that have helped shape who he is today.

Tom Wassell on Ichiro’s return to the Mariners

Having to look at a lineup card every day after knowing for years that his name would be on it and at the very top was one of the biggest adjustments. While his name won’t be inked into a stack of lineups batting leadoff for the Mariners this season, it was there Sunday as Ichiro made his 2018 Cactus League debut.

Lineup!

Ichiro, LF
Jean Segura, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Mitch Haniger, RF
Mike Ford, DH
Mike Zunino, C
Guillermo Heredia, CF
Andrew Romine, 3B

Mike Leake, RHP

A scheduled day off for Dee Gordon gives Ichiro the leadoff sport and gets Guillermo Heredia his first work in center field this spring. In the regular season, plan on seeing Ichiro more toward the bottom of the order.

“I’ve talked to him, he understands,” said manager Scott Servais about where Ichiro will hit in the batting order. “I’ve explained to him, (he) doesn’t have to hit .400. Adding to the clubhouse, playing good defense, helping out guys along the way. We all know he’s going to get his hits. There’s a lot of ways he can help us.”

Servais has said he would like Ichiro to share his experience, be vocal in the clubhouse and on the bench.

“I think it is very important. Something I have encouraged him to do is to chime in,” said Servais, noting that Ichiro did exactly that in a situational baserunning chalk talk the day before. “I think that allows him to get comfortable and I think other guys are comfortable around him.”

Ichiro himself already seems very comfortable, slipping back into his routine in seamless fashion. For one day at least, he should be very comfortable at the top of the batting order.

Notes

• Leake is scheduled to go 5-6 innings today. David Phelps, Mike Morin, Casey Lawrence, Shawn Armstrong, and Chasen Bradford are all scheduled to follow on the mound.

• Nelson Cruz is out with the flu for the second straight day.

• Felix Hernandez will play catch Sunday, and if everything feels good he will be allowed to throw 10-12 pitches from flat ground. We should see him throw a bullpen in the next few days after which he could be cleared to return to games or throw one more bullpen.

• Erasmo Ramirez played catch for a second straight day as he works to return to games.

• From the blast from the past category, former Mariners pitcher Joel Pineiro is in camp this week as a guest instructor. He will work on both the major and minor league sides.

• Servais on the decision to release Tony Zych: “It was kind of where we are at with Tony. When Tony is healthy he’s very effective. He’s had a nice run when he is healthy and being out there. I think where he is at, information we were getting from our medical people, there wasn’t a clear light at the end of the tunnel (about) his ability to help us this year. It is never an easy decision. I do think Tony has a lot of baseball ahead of him, I don’t know how soon it will be. That’s what went into the decision.”

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