03/21 06:12 CDT Report: Ichiro will retire in Japan after Mariners vs. A's
Report: Ichiro will retire in Japan after Mariners vs. A's
By STEPHEN WADE
AP Sports Writer
TOKYO (AP) --- Ichiro Suzuki started for the Seattle Mariners on Thursday in
what the Japanese news agency Kyodo is reporting will be his final major league
The 45-year-old Ichiro fouled out his first time up and grounded out in his
next at-bat against Oakland. Each time the crowd chanted "Ichiro, Ichiro" as
camera flashes and iPhone flashes lit up the 45,000 sellout at the Tokyo Dome.
Kyodo didn't cite the source of its report.
Seattle manager Scott Servais had hinted that, after Ichiro started in a
season-opening victory against the Athletics on Wednesday, he might not start
the final game of the brief series that opened the Major League Baseball season.
"I wasn't quite sure," Servais said. "I thought we'd give him the opportunity
to go out there. And I'd love to see him get a couple of hits and finish on a
high note here. I want to do the right thing."
Ichiro has been swarmed over in games in Japan. On Thursday he signed caps,
jerseys, photos and balls down the left field line with security guards on
megaphones telling people to be careful.
He saluted the crowd taking his spot in the outfield, and tossed a half-dozen
balls to fans behind the third base dugout. In batting practice, fans in that
same spot wore shirts saying "Ichiro is Life"and "I believe 3,090."
Ichiro has had a difficult spring, finding it hard to rebound after stepping
aside last May to become a Mariners' front office assistant.
He was 2 for 25 in spring training games, and then 0 for 6 in two exhibition
games in Japan this week against the Tokyo Giants. The Japan exhibitions do not
count as official games. If they did, Ichiro would be hitting .065.
He has 3,089 hits since joining the Mariners in 2001, and another 1,278 playing
earlier in Japan --- baseball's all-time hits leader.
He was 0 for 1 with a walk and a popout in the 9-7 win over the A's on
A sellout of 45,000 turned out again to watch Ichiro and Mariners rookie
pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, who made his first start in the majors.
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