SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer: Why an Ichiro return with Mariners would make sense

Mar 5, 2018, 11:50 AM | Updated: 4:18 pm
With the Mariners in need of outfield depth, Ichiro Suzuki could be back in Seattle soon. (AP)...
With the Mariners in need of outfield depth, Ichiro Suzuki could be back in Seattle soon. (AP)
(AP)

Update: Sources now confirm that Ichiro is in agreement on a contract with the Mariners pending a physical which he will take in Seattle.

PEORIA, Ariz. – Is it time to dust off the No. 51 jersey?

Here’s what we know about a rumored return of Ichiro Suzuki to the Mariners – there are reports out of Japan that Ichiro is in the process of finalizing a one-year major league deal with the team. I have heard rumblings over the last 24 hours about a possible return but have been unable to confirm them.

Mariners in need of OF help with Ben Gamel out

That said, this makes sense. Sources told me this fall that there was interest in bringing Ichiro back, but in the end the Mariners just could not find a fit for the 44-year-old outfielder. This obviously isn’t the same Ichiro we saw back in the early 2000s, but he has been a productive fourth outfielder able to play left field for some time now. With Ben Gamel expected to miss four to six weeks with a strained oblique, there is now a spot for him.

Off the field, from everything I have heard as well as encounters I have had with him, this is a different Ichiro, as well. Ichiro’s Yankees and Marlins teammates, including new Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon, have raved about playing with Ichiro. While I always observed him to be a good teammate, by all reports he has opened up quite a bit since leaving the Mariners clubhouse and been very good with younger players in particular. He seems to be at peace with his new role in the game and is certainly driven by the challenge to keep playing as he gets older.

Again, nothing is yet official, but the two sides are talking and we could see Ichiro in Peoria soon.

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Drayer: Why an Ichiro return with Mariners would make sense