PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) – Ichiro Suzuki went through a variety of ground-based moves in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse before he entered the field. When he was out, he did field, kick, and baserunning exercises smoothly.
At age 45, and in the spring, Suzuki has the chance to play in his home country for his original major league team.
"Attracting Seattle Mariner's uniform as a player, being here the first day, is just incredible, it's great," Suzuki said through a translator. "Very happy with today and how it went, and I will take it day after day."
The former MVP and 10-time All-Star outfielder is in a minor league deal after appearing in a minor league The role of the Special Assistant was almost the last year he was still training with the team. If he is well, next month Suzuki will be added to the 28-player Mariners for Oakland's two opening games in Tokyo.
"My body really has not changed," he said.
Suzuki, who said he had just gone off in the off-season just two or three days after training, checked in with just 7 percent body fat at the camp.
"He looks incredible, as if he's prepared to come here every day, and that's probably because he did it," said CEO Jerry Dipoto. "He's so focused on his goals, and now his goal is to make sure he's on that plane when we leave for Tokyo."
Large groups of fans and Japanese media followed Suzuki everywhere he was during the first practice session.
When asked how much he looked forward to the Japan series, Suzuki insisted he had not thought about it yet. The player with 4,367 career hits – 3,089 in the 18 major leagues of the season and 1,278 in nine seasons previously in Japan – focuses on his daily work.
"I think a 45-year-old baseball player really should not be thinking about the future, it's about today," said Suzuki, who would be the MLB's leading career ladder when he's in the top league, seven more than Albert Pujols, since Adrian Beltre retired after his last season with 3,166 hits.
After the Japan, it is unclear where or whether Suzuki would fit into a team in rebuilding mode with a focus on younger players, and 34 newcomers to launch the camp. And after the first two games against the ace, there will be less roster spots. No matter what, Suzuki said the Mariners uniform would be the last one he'll wear in the big leagues.
Dipoto said the team is With its most important outfield players – Mitch Haniger, Domingo Santana and newcomer Mallex Smith – as well as the seasoned newcomer Jay Bruce, who is expected to float between the corners of the corner, the first base and the designated hitter. While Smith is struggling with some right-elbow discomfort, manager Scott Servais said the problem was not serious.
"Today I talked to Jay Bruce and found out he's 31," Suzuki said. "He's 14 years younger than I. I was pretty shocked about that."
The Mariners also have Yusei Kikuchi, a 27-year-old rookie from Japan, who enjoys the opportunity to play with the outfielder he saw growing up. 19659004] "One of my goals when I became a professional over time was that one day I played with players who were kids when I was still playing," Suzuki said. "And now I'm at the point where I play with elementary boys when I play here, that was more a goal I had, so I think through the years I've worked hard and been able to do it Where I am today definitely gives me satisfaction. "
Suzuki was both the 2001 AL rookie and MVP for the Mariners, winning a pair of AL batting titles. After being traded to the Yankees in mid-2012 and playing parts of three seasons in New York, he had three seasons in Miami, before 44 thugs against the Mariners were in limited action at the start of last season.
"He'll have so much energy, if not more than the rest of the guys, it's just the way he wired," said Servais, the manager who is only six years older than Suzuki. "He's always ready, our young players will be thrilled, just as this guy is old and how long he has done that, so he's the greatest, he's great."