SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer: Scott Servais’ message to Ichiro? You are going to play

Mar 7, 2018, 3:13 PM | Updated: 3:45 pm
Scott Servais said the Mariners will give Ichiro more playing time than he had in Miami. (AP)...
Scott Servais said the Mariners will give Ichiro more playing time than he had in Miami. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Ichiro is a Mariner once more. The contract has been signed and the press conference completed. What comes next is the baseball.

The general manager sought him out and delivered him, and it is now it is up to the manager to get him onto the field. Scott Servais has had little chance to talk with his newest player as of yet, but in the two minutes he had before the contract signing, he delivered a message that Ichiro no doubt appreciated.

Servais to Brock and Salk: ‘Ichiro can help us win’

“I welcomed him back and let him know, ‘You’re going to play,'” said Servais.”He’s going to play. It’s not like what he has done the last couple of years. That’s why we acquired him, to bring him in. I don’t think it’s going to be seven days a week, but we will get him out there. I believe he can help us, our people who are making the decisions on our roster believe he can help us. We will give it a shot.”

Ichiro was given just 215 plate appearances (109 as a pinch hitter) in 2017 with the Miami Marlins, down from 365 the previous year when Giancarlo Stanton missed significant time. Servais believes that Ichiro has a chance to show more consistency at the plate with more consistent work.

“It is so hard to pinch hit in this league,” Servais said. “He actually had a very good season pinch hitting. Getting regular at-bats certainly helps. I don’t care how old you are, you need the timing. It just helps knowing you are going to be out there.

“I think realistically could he play four days a week, five days a week,” he added.”That’s kind of what we are hoping for.”

It will be a game of mix-and-match for Servais, as it most likely would have been before Ben Gamel’s oblique injury that opened the door for Ichiro. Guillermo Heredia was in line to be the Mariners fourth outfielder, but a fourth outfielder they wanted to play quite a bit. With Heredia coming off offseason shoulder surgery, however, the Mariners wouldn’t lean on him to play every day. The intent all along was to give regulars more breaks in an effort to avoid fatigue and lessen chance of injury over the length of the season.

Ichiro will play. Don’t be looking for him in the former “Area 51” at Safeco Field, though, as he will be limited to left field.

“His instincts have always been phenomenal and having awareness on the field where he is at, I do think he helps out Dee Gordon quite a bit in the outfield,” said Servais. “Things that experience is the only way you get that stuff. Hopefully he can pass that along to Dee.”

In his press conference, Ichiro expressed a desire to help the Mariners’ young outfielders, and in the clubhouse the young outfielders said they were eager to pick his brain. They will have to wait one more day as Ichiro will not have his first workout with the team until Thursday.

Servais is just as eager as the outfielders for Ichiro to join the clubhouse.

“There’s a ton of value just watching the routine,” Servais said, echoing what a number of Mariners players who have been teammates with Ichiro in the past said Tuesday. “How routine-oriented he is. How disciplined he is. What he does and why he does it. Hopefully he is willing and wants to share some of that stuff with our young players.

“He’s got a lot of it (experience). This is going to be very interesting.”

Servais hopes continuity in clubhouse will be key early for Mariners

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