Mariners hero Suzuki unveiled by Yankees
Ichiro Suzuki was greeted by cheers at Safeco Field on Monday night while wearing his new Yankees uniform just hours after being dealt by the Seattle Mariners to the visiting New York club.
Suzuki, who spent his entire 12-year career with the Mariners, was traded by Seattle to the Yankees for a pair of minor-league pitchers, the Mariners announced.
"It's a very unusual set of circumstances, it goes without saying," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge.
Suzuki faced his Seattle teammates as the Mariners hosted the Yankees but general manager Jack Zduriencik said it wasn't planned that way. The Yankees and Mariners open a three-game series.
"The fact it happened like it happened, it was more just circumstance and coincidence.
"There'll be a lot of fans who come out and pay tribute to him, which he deserves," Zduriencik said. "To play three games here in another uniform, that's very unique and I'm looking forward to it on one sense. The other sense, the emotional side is tied to it. Very unique."
Suzuki, a 10-time all-star, is a .322 career hitter and was the American League MVP in 2001. He was also named AL rookie of the year that same season.
"He's done some great things in the league," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "Offense, defense, there's a lot of different ways he can beat you. He's been as consistent as anyone."
The 38-year-old Suzuki leads the Mariners all-time in hits, triples and runs scored. He is in the final year of his contract. The Mariners received right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar in exchange for Suzuki.
"Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop," said Mariners chief executive Howard Lincoln.
Suzuki, a right fielder, led MLB in hits seven times, tying Pete Rose and Ty Cobb for the most all-time. He belted a league record 262 hits in 2004 and his 10 consecutive seasons, beginning in 2001, with 200 or more hits is also a MLB record.
Suzuki helped Japan win the World Baseball Classic title in 2006 and again three years later. He has hit four homers, has 15 stolen bases and is batting .261 this season. Suzuki is Seattle's all-time leader in hits (2,533), runs scored (1,176), triples (79) and at-bats (7,858).
"When I spent time during the all-star break to think, I realised that this team has many players in their early 20's. I began to think that I should not be on this team next year," Suzuki said through a translator.
Suzuki will add depth to the Yankees already potent attack. New York wanted to beef up their lineup because of an injury to outfielder Brett Gardner who needs surgery on his right elbow.
"We are very excited to have him," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi of Suzuki. "We feel that he brings a speed element.
"At times he'll play some right (field) if I need to give (Nick Swisher) a day off, but our plan is to play him in left field."
Earlier this month, Suzuki and his Japanese teammates Munenori Kawasaki and Hisashi Iwakuma, were instrumental in helping the Mariners beat Baltimore 6-3. It marked the first time in history that three Japanese players were in the starting lineup of a MLB club.
The 25-year-old Mitchell has spent most of the season with Triple-A Scranton, while Farquhar, 25, has spent the 2012 season in the minor league systems of three franchises, Toronto, Oakland and New York.