The Seattle Mariners are mixing things up this year. Ichiro Suzuki is moving down the order. Shannon Drayer has more on the Mariners Blog.
As for Ichiro hitting third, while I never bought into the thought that he could magically turn into a slugger who could hit 30 home runs a season if he was moved down in the order, I do like the move because it really shakes things up for him. Ichiro's classic Ichiro style did not work for him last year. If he were to hit second I don't think he would change much. Third is another story.
Greg Johns adds the following regarding manager Eric Wedge's decision-making.
"I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this winter and talked with the coaches and Jack [Zduriencik] and everyone," Wedge said. "Bottom line is for us to have the best lineup 1 through 9 out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro batting third. It helps the guy in front of him, it helps the guy behind him and it helps him.
There have been clues that Seattle has been preparing for such a move for awhile.
There's no question Ichiro has been hitting with a wider, more balanced stance so far this spring -- perhaps in anticipation of hitting 3rd— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) February 21, 2012
What would be the motivations for taking him away from that steady number one spot?
I'd guess part of the reason Ichiro hits third at the start of the year is to bump younger guys down and take pressure off them, initially.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 21, 2012
It'll be interesting to see how well Ichiro fares here. He has to change his usual mechanics at the plate to try and generate more power while at the same time maintaining his hitting prowess. Is he capable of doing both so late in his career? It's always difficult to get a baseball player to learn new tricks, particularly when the old tricks have been so successful at making him one of the greatest in the game.
Well, here's to hoping this solves Seattle's hitting issues, and doesn't lead to an outbreak of double plays from the heart of the lineup.
To talk about Ichiro with Mariners fans, head on over to Lookout Landing.