Having already won two World Baseball Classics, former Mariner Ichiro Suzuki won't be back to try for a third. On Monday, Ichiro announced to Japanese baseball officials he would sit out the 2013 WBC. This is a decision the outfielder had come to years ago, after Japan won its second WBC title.
"I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC," Suzuki said. "But after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event. My feelings have not changed to this day, and it's where things stand."
The outfielder, 39, joins MLB players Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and Norichika Aoki on the list of opt-outs for Japan. Without those big bats and arms, Japan will rely upon talent from its homegrown major league. Team Japan has landed in Pool A with Cuba, China, and a qualifier yet to be determined. The team will play its first game March 2 in its own back yard of Fukuoka, Japan.
Ichiro was traded from Seattle to New York in July, where he played in 67 games for the Yankees. He is currently a free agent.