SEATTLE (AP) _ Ichiro Suzuki is headed to a new team and, after
all these years, maybe a shot at playing in the World Series.
The New York Yankees acquired the star outfielder from the
Seattle Mariners in a trade Monday for two young pitchers.
“I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the
most wins,” he said. “It’s hard to contain my excitement for that
The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old
righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place
Mariners. The trade was announced a few hours before the Yankees
played at Seattle.
Moving from one clubhouse to another, Suzuki was set to start in
right field in place of the injured Nick Swisher and bat eighth for
New York on Monday night. It will be the first time Suzuki started
a game batting anywhere other than the top three spots in the
The Yankees made the trade a few days after learning that the
speedy Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season
because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuiki
will mostly play left field.
“We’re very excited with the caliber of player we are getting.
We feel that he brings the speed element. He’s a tremendous hitter.
That speed element is what we lost when Gardy had surgery,”
Girardi said. “So this is a big day for us.”
Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire
career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn since four-time
World Series champion Bernie Williams last played.
“No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what
51 means to the Yankees, it’s hard for me to ask for that number.”
Mitchell made his major league debut this season and pitched
four games for the Yankees. Farquhar made his big league debut last
year with Toronto and was claimed last month on waivers by the
Yankees from Oakland.
The 38-year-old Suzuki had spent his whole big league career
with Seattle. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is
batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this
Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the
record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every
season until dipping last year.
The only thing missing on Suzuki’s resume is an appearance in
the World Series, and he may get a chance with the Yankees. Suzuki
was the AL MVP and rookie of the year in 2001 after a stellar
career in Japan, and the Mariners reached the AL championship
series that season before losing to the Yankees. Seattle has not
been back to the playoffs since then.
He said he hasn’t played in left field since those 2001
The Yankees certainly hope this trade with the Mariners works
out better than the last big deal between the teams. New York sent
prized young catcher Jesus Montero to Seattle before the season for
All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda, who was later injured and is out
for the year.
The Mariners had been in a delicate situation with Suzuki. A
long time star and fan favorite, Suzuki’s skills have been eroding.
He’s in the final year of a five-year contract, paying $18 million
this season. There has been much debate in the Seattle media
whether he would be back next year with Seattle, a team that is
rebuilding with young talent.
Suzuki put an end to the speculation when he approached
management around the All-Star break and asked to be traded.
“Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent,
Tony Attanasio, approached (team president) Chuck Armstrong and me
to ask that the Mariners consider trading him,” said Howard
Lincoln, the team’s CEO. “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.”
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has long admired Suzuki, saying,
“he’s been consistent throughout his career.”
“They’re been a lot of guys that have come here over the years,
starting my first year with Cecil Fielder,” he added. “It’s been
unexpected, sort of out of the blue. That’s why you don’t ever
listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable.”
Said Suzuki about playing with Jeter: “I noticed that he’s not
only a guy who has performed for a long time but consistently
performed for a long time. And for a team that has the highest
expectations of demand to win. To do what he has done there makes
me see that he’s exceptional, not just potential wise as a talent
but also as a human being.”
Suzuki, usually stoic on and off the field, became emotional at
times during the news conference, especially when talking about his
admiration for the Mariners fans.
“When I think about this long period, it is difficult to
express precisely my feeling,” Suzuki said of his time in Seattle.
“When I imagined taking off a Seattle Mariners uniform, I was
overcome with sadness. That made it a very difficult decision to
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)