Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has spent the majority of his career in the leadoff spot of the batting order, but now entering his twelfth season in MLB, he is possibly entering a new role on the team, and is OK with relinquishing the leadoff spot to someone else.
It's too early," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "We just went through our first workout. But I can say this. I'm always prepared for a new challenge, and that's how we all have to move forward. If that's the case, we're just out there to perform as baseball players and go all out."
Skipper Eric Wedge spoke about the possibility of moving Ichiro somewhere down the line in the order during the offseason, but said he hasn't officially sat down with him to hash anything out:
"I haven't had that discussion with him," the second-year manager said. "As you know, I had multiple discussions with him this winter, as well as with other people...when it's time to let you guys know what I'm thinking and what we're planning on doing, we'll get it out to you."
The 38 year old Ichiro saw his numbers dip well below his career averages in 2011, didn't make the All-Star team, have 200 hits, or win a Gold Glove, something he did every year prior. Nevertheless, Ichiro is a consumate professional who only wants to help the team win. Even the fact he's entering the last year of his $18 million contract has no bearing on his mindset of the game:
"I don't think it's necessary for us to talk about a contract, because that's not going to change my approach," Ichiro said. "I work hard regardless."
We'll see where he's penciled in on Opening Day in Japan.
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