The shift is on.
The Seattle Mariners announced today that 44-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will not return to the lineup. Instead, he will transition to the role of Special Assitant to the Chairman. The club says that he will continue to be an “active presence” with the team, at home, and on the road. Prior to the start of the season, Ichiro had signed a 1-year deal to return to Seattle, adamant that his playing days were not yet behind him.
One of only 31 players in MLB history to amass 3,000 career hits, Ichiro will be mentoring players and staff based on his expertise in hitting, fielding, and baserunning. He won both Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first season in the Majors, only the second player ever to do so. Beginning in his rookie season in 2001, he also won ten consecutive Gold Gloves and was named to the All-Star team all ten years. In Mariner’s franchise history, he’s ranked first in hits, batting average, at-bats, triples, and stolen bases. He was also a 3-time league MVP during his years playing in Japan’s Pacific League.
Ichiro is one of those players who is so supremely good, so talented, so remarkable, that you know him by his first name. For many millennials, seeing his career transition off of the field is like seeing the end of your childhood. For many pitchers, it’s a relief to no longer have to face him.
Ichiro’s new job sounds a lot like David Ortiz’s job with the Sox, but more active and involved. Lucky Seattle. Good luck to you, Ichiro.
Photo: Japan Times