Suzuki returns to Seattle as member of 3,000-hit club
By JIM HOEHN, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki received a rousing ovation Monday for his first at-bat in Safeco Field as a member of the 3,000-hit club.
The Japanese star spent his first 11 1/2 American seasons with Seattle, getting 2,533 hits before heading to the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.
He batted ninth for Miami on Monday in his first appearance at Safeco since June 12, 2014, when he was with the Yankees.
“He deserves everything he gets,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s been a great player. He’s been a great player for a long time. And obviously he started his career in the States here. It was nice to see that.”
With the Mariners leading 3-0, Suzuki grounded out to second to end the third inning. Suzuki grounded out three times as his average dipped to .067 with one hit in 15 at-bats. The Marlins lost 6-1.
The 43-year-old got his 3,000th career hit last season, and the Mariners had a pregame video tribute for him on the scoreboard, followed by an introduction at home plate with several former Seattle teammates and current players. Suzuki also had 1,278 hits in nine seasons in Japan.
“You know it’s been three years since I’ve been back,” Suzuki said through a translator. “To get that warm reception that I did get, and with the ceremony and with having the guys come out, Edgar (Martinez) and Felix (Hernandez) and (Kyle) Seager and (Hisashi) Iwakuma come out, just grateful. Grateful to them and grateful to the fans. … it’s been so long.
“I could have been forgotten but for them to do that for me I was very thankful,” he said. “It kind of reaffirms that this is a special place.”
Suzuki, who played mostly right field during his time in Seattle, started in left and made a nice running catch on Taylor Motter’s drive into the corner in the eighth inning.
“Even when I was with the Yankees, I never played left field here at Safeco,” he said. “So this was the first view I got from that angle. That definitely kind of felt weird, kind of was a little different. It was a different experience.”