Ichiro Returns to the Mariners

Ichiro Returns to the Mariners

The club signed the iconic outfielder to a one-year deal. Let’s appreciate the simple joy of that.

There are advantages to having zero expectations. It creates an environment devoid of letdowns, and allows one to enjoy the simple moments of relatively trivial happiness.

In related news: The Mariners have offically agreed to a one-year deal with 44-year-old outfielder—and franchise legend—Ichiro Suzuki.

After being left at the proverbial altar by Japanese pitching/hitting sensation Shohei Ohtani (did it have to be the Angels, Ohtani?!?), the Mariners have put together a real whimper of an off-season. Even in baseball—the sport in which hope springs eternal in the spring—there’s no sense of optimism or enthusiasm surrounding the organization. Nobody’s picking the team to make the playoffs, and why would they? The Mariners now boast the longest playoff drought in any of the major sports leagues (16 seasons … but who’s counting?).

While signing Ichiro doesn’t give the organization a sudden influx of hope, it does give fans a nice boost of simple, mildly nostalgic happiness. Seeing Ichiro slap singles and chase down balls in the outfield will rub that dog-belly sweet spot and make the overly long MLB season slightly more bearable.

Beyond the obvious boosts in fan interest, marketing, and merchandising opportunities that Ichiro creates, the signing actually makes sense from a baseball perspective. The Mariners have a young, inexperienced collection of outfielders, and most of them are nursing injuries at the moment. Ben Gamel just strained his oblique and could be out six weeks. Guillermo Heredia had offseason shoulder surgery. Mitch Haniger has been dealing with tendinitis in his hand. As a fifth outfielder, Ichiro provides experienced and durable depth.

Ichiro was essentially a replacement-level backup outfielder/pinch hitter last year with the Florida Marlins, where he put up a .255/.318/.332 line in just 215 plate appearances, but he’s just a year removed from a 2016 campaign where he batted .291/.354/.376 as a part-time starter. Basically, while he’s nowhere near his Hall of Fame peak, he isn’t totally washed up yet (think Ken Griffey Jr.’s 2009 return season with the M’s, not his unfortunate and abbreviated final year in 2010).

The last time the Mariners made the playoffs was Ichiro’s MVP rookie season. Would it be fitting for him to bookend his career with clutch hits down the stretch that help the Mariners finally return to the playoffs? Sure. Unlikely, but sure. Mainly, I just want to experience the joy of watching Ichiro play again … and for him to get a million hits off Ohtani.

ssommerfeld@seattleweekly.com




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in Sports

Mind over miles: Thoughts from the Seattle Half Marathon
Mind over miles: Thoughts from the Seattle Half Marathon

Reporter runs the 13.1-mile race in 2:01:40.

UW Senior WR Andre Baccellia scores on a 5-yard pass from QB Jacob Eason.
Huskies fall to Ducks, 35-31 | Photos

The University of Washington Huskies fell to the Oregon Ducks, 35-31, on… Continue reading

Wilson’s 4 TDs, late field goal miss helps Hawks edge Rams
Wilson’s 4 TDs, late field goal miss helps Hawks edge Rams

Russell Wilson led a late scoring drive and a 44-yard attempt was barely wide in Seattle’s 30-29 win.

Marysville Olympian, honored Wednesday, found dead at 42
Marysville Olympian, honored Wednesday, found dead at 42

Jarred Rome was in town for his induction into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame.

Spread the wealth? Money crunch is coming for Seahawks
Spread the wealth? Money crunch is coming for Seahawks

Seattle has one more season before its big-spending ramifications truly kick in.

Screenshot of video obtained by Redmond police shows Richard Sherman trying to break into the Redmond home of his in-laws.
Richard Sherman takes plea deal on charges stemming from July 2021 incident

The former Seahawks player will not have to do any additional jail time.

Design rendering of future Sounders FC facility in Renton. (Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC)
Seattle Sounders FC announce new HQ at Renton’s Longacres site

Facility is expected to open in 2024, before Seattle potentially hosts FIFA World Cup games in 2026.

tsr
WIAA launches bias reporting form in response to discriminatory incidents

Inappropriate behavior seen, heard or witnessed at any WIAA member school event can be reported.

file photo
Health department: COVID outbreaks linked to high school wrestling tournaments

At least 80 cases are tied to the events which included attendees from multiple counties and states.

Cappy’s Boxing Gym logo (screenshot from Cappy’s Facebook page)
Washington native UFC fighter helps to upgrade community boxing gym

Michael Chiesa, the UFC and Modelo partnered to help renovate Cappy’s Boxing Gym in Seattle.

Talia Walton in high school playing for Federal Way in the state championships. File photo
Former UW Husky, WNBA player takes over Renton scholastic sports

Federal Way HS basketball alum Talia Walton aims to rally the community around sports.

A Decatur High School student in Federal Way participates in a conditioning workout in Feb. 2021 as the state eased back in to in-person activities. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State announces mask requirements for student sports, performing arts

Athletes are not required to wear masks when participating in sports of any contact level while outside.