Ichiro transitioning to front-office role with Mariners

 Cleveland Indians at Seattle MarinersIt’s not retirement, but it’s pretty close. Ichiro Suzuki is moving from the active roster of the Seattle Mariners to a front-office role with the team, signalling an end to his playing days for the rest of 2018. Suzuki, who will turn 45 years old in October, finally appears to have lost one step too many, although he could return to the field for a more formal send-off at some point next year.

 

Suzuki is no longer a part of Seattle’s active roster after becoming a special assistant to the chairman, freeing up a roster spot that the Mariners used to add pitcher Erik Goeddel from their triple-A affiliate. Suzuki had rejoined Seattle in the offseason for the first time since 2012, but he hit .205 in 15 games and wasn’t making a positive contribution to a Mariners team that is near the top of the AL West one month into the season.

 

Suzuki began his MLB career in Seattle in 2001 after spending nine professional seasons playing in Japan. Despite his late start in North America, he still managed to record over 3,000 career hits, and he was named American League MVP in his rookie year. Suzuki is a two-time AL batting champion who had an MLB-record 262 hits in 2004. He kept his batting average above .300 for the first 10 years of his MLB career, while winning 10 straight gold gloves as well. Suzuki was less effective once Seattle traded him to the New York Yankees in 2012, but he had a late-career resurgence with the Miami Marlins in 2016, hitting .291 as a 42-year-old.

 

Suzuki’s amazing career paved the way for other Japanese stars to join MLB, which now seems to happen at least once every offseason. His influence and popularity in Japan cannot be overstated, which could be why Suzuki has decided not to formally retire yet. The Mariners will open their 2019 season in Japan with a pair of games against the Oakland Athletics, which would appear to be the ideal spot for Suzuki to take his last at-bats. Once Suzuki does formally retire, it’s safe to say there will be a plaque in Cooperstown with his name on it before long.