By Shannon Drayer
So many stories in the clubhouse but only time to blog about one. I am going to guess it is Ichiro that you most want to hear from, so here you go.
In the first inning of Tuesday’s game Ichiro dropped a single in front of the center fielder for his 2,500th MLB hit. He didn’t stop there, adding one more single, a sacrifice fly and two doubles en route to the Mariners’ 12-9 win over the Diamondbacks in 10 innings. The fact that this production came the day after his second off day of the season also contributes to Ichiro being the story of the day.
Ichiro is greeted by teammates in the dugout after recording his 2,500th MLB hit on Tuesday. (AP)
Following his milestone night, Ichiro spoke first with representatives from the Japanese media and then with a group of American writers. According to him, it was nothing out of the ordinary to have a four-hit night as he has had many before. The accomplishment of reaching 2,500 hits, however, had him reflecting on his time in Major League Baseball.
“Well, I have broken many records in the last 12 years and you look at when, on my first day I got here in 2001, if I said my goal was to get 2,500 hits then people would say I was crazy,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “But now you look at it, looking back, things do come true. That’s how I see myself now and I still look back to how I felt my first day here because there is a passion inside that is all the same.”
When Ichiro first came to the United States there were plenty both in and around the game that doubted he would succeed, much less go on to put up a Hall of Fame career. Instead of tuning out the doubters he turned it inward.
“There are two things that come in mind,” he said. “There is that passion and love for the game and that kept me motivated and there is also the criticism that came along with that that keeps burning in my heart that brought me to this day.”
It appeared that this day was indeed important to Ichiro. While he downplayed the significance of having a four-hit day I have to believe that, especially on the heels of a season-long struggle, was important to him as well. The fact that it followed a day off, something Eric Wedge said he believed would benefit Ichiro before the game, perhaps was a tad awkward for Ichiro as he is in no way used to days off.
“It kind of depends on how you are given that day off,” Ichiro responded when asked about his feeling on future days off. “Yesterday was tough for me and very regretting because you want to go out there and perform. But then I understand the skipper’s situation and understanding as well. So it kind of depends from here on how you are being given a day off because regretting is something I have in my heart, but at the same time it gives me motivation too.”
Motivation. And on Tuesday, four hits and one big milestone.