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Mariners’ Manny Acta eagerly awaits Ichiro’s now-delayed coaching debut

Ichiro will serve as Mariners bench coach Saturday with manager Scott Servais away. (AP)

DETROIT – Ichiro’s bench coach debut will have to wait a day as the Mariners’ series opener Friday against the Tigers has been postponed due to rain.

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With manager Scott Servais away from the club for two games to attend his daughter’s graduation, Manny Acta was to manage the team in his absence. The team was permitted to add another uniformed staff member for the two days and that spot went to Ichiro.

“I’m honored to have a guy like Ichiro to be my bench coach. It’s a luxury,” Acta said Friday afternoon. “It’s another little history that I can tell my grand kids down the road. This week I have seen a few good things to add to those stories. The 3,000 of Albert (Pujols), the (James) Paxton no-hitter. And Ichiro as my bench coach. As a matter of fact, he’s moving fast in the game, huh?”

While Ichiro has absolutely no coaching experience, Acta has plenty. He worked his way through the coaching ranks and eventually managed the Expos and Indians. He has been interviewed for a number of managerial openings over the last five years, including the job with the Mets last offseason.

“It’s my goal,” he said. “I’m in no type of rush, I don’t have any type of agenda, but it is my goal – that’s what I like to do. Probably somebody at some time will take a chance. I don’t do rebuilding jobs. My only fear is the same industry that put me in that spot of doing two rebuilding jobs judges me over wins and losses. That’s part of the game.”

In the meantime, Acta has kept current with the ever-changing game. Already well-versed in the analytical side, he has paid particular attention to how today’s player is managed behind the scenes.

“I have learned so much here especially under Scotty,” he said. “My teachers were Frank Robinson and Willie Randolph. They were old school type of guys and the game has changed so much. Whenever I go back I will do so many things differently than in the past. The way Scotty handles guys on an everyday basis and the way the game has changed, it forces you to change. Seeing how another guy handles a group of players has helped me tremendously.”

With Friday’s postponement, Acta will still get to manage two games as a straight doubleheader has been scheduled for Saturday starting at 1:10 p.m. Marco Gonzales will start game 1 and Felix Hernandez game 2. The Mariners will be allowed to call up a 26th player, who has yet to be announced, for the two games.

As for Ichiro? He will be right there beside Acta during the game.

“He’s going to be watching the game and managing his own game just as I do, and if anything pops up, any idea, I will ask him and go from there. But probably at the end of the day I will go with my idea,” Acta said with a laugh.

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