SEATTLE (AP) _ Ichiro Suzuki bowed twice to the fans and
promptly smacked a single to center.
Sayonara, Seattle. Hello, Yankees.
Suzuki switched teams at Safeco Field after a momentous trade
and singled his first time up with New York during its 4-1 victory
over the Mariners on Monday night.
“Obviously, it looks different being over here,” Suzuki said
through a translator. “I was worried about my first at-bat. I was
really relieved with the standing ovation. It was a special day
In a surprising deal about 31/2 hours before the game, Seattle
sent Suzuki to the Yankees for a pair of young pitchers. After
leaving the only major league team he’d ever played for, the
10-time All-Star held an emotional news conference and then joined
his new teammates in the other clubhouse.
Just like that, Suzuki went from last place in the AL West to
first in the AL East. And he helped New York beat his former club
by going 1 for 4 with his 16th stolen base.
The crowd of 29,911 gave Suzuki a 45-second standing ovation
when he came to bat for the first time in the third inning. He
doffed his helmet and bowed twice before hitting a single and
stealing second base.
“My 111/2 years here is a long time and I was thinking what I
would feel like in my first at-bat,” Suzuki said. “I really
didn’t think anything. Nothing came to me. It was just a wonderful
day to experience that.”
Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) allowed three hits over seven sharp innings
to help the Yankees bounce back from a four-game sweep in Oakland.
The right-hander struck out nine and walked one.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 15th home run this season _ the 644th of
his career and 299th as a Yankee _ in the eighth. He also had a
double in the fourth and scored twice. It was his 40th homer at
Safeco Field but first since Aug. 22, 2006.
Mark Teixeira had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and
David Robertson worked a hitless eighth and Rafael Soriano
pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 27 chances. Fittingly,
Suzuki caught the final out in right field.
Kevin Millwood (3-8) went seven innings, allowing nine hits and
Suzuki showed up in Seattle’s clubhouse in the early afternoon
wearing a fine suit with thin pinstripes. By the end of the day, he
had a different sort of pinstripes on his mind.
“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
Suzuki, in the final year of his contract, started in right
field in place of injured Nick Swisher and batted eighth. It was
the first time the 2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year started a
game batting anywhere other than the top three spots in the lineup.
“Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his longtime 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.”
The Yankees made the deal a few days after learning that speedy
outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season
because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki
will mostly play left field.
“He looked good,” Girardi said. “He hit the ball right on the
screws twice. He stole a base, made a good throw to home. Kind of
what we expected.
“We’re really pleased to have him. This is a guy we think can
do a lot of things for us. He’s a very accomplished player. Our
guys were really excited to see him.”
Suzuki hit just .272 last season and was at .261 this year _ 62
points below his career average _ before the trade. But Girardi
believes change is good.
“I think it can help a lot of guys,” he said. “A couple years
ago, we acquired Lance Berkman. He was huge for us down the stretch
and the end of the year. He just got on a roll and I think Ichiro
can do the same thing.
“He’s used to high expectations. Every year he’s expected to
get 200 hits, score 100 runs. Slipping into our lineup maybe he
won’t feel all those expectations as much.”
Suzuki said he did feel relaxed in among his new teammates.
“It’s an atmosphere that’s really comfortable,” he said.
“It’s an atmosphere I love to be around.”
Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire
career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn by a Yankee
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,”
said Suzuki, who holds the major league record for most hits in a
When Suzuki trotted out to right field in the first, fans stood
and applauded. He tipped his hat and waved it in a half-circle.
The Mariners scored in the third on John Jaso’s RBI single to
right. Suzuki’s hard throw to the plate was too late to get Dustin
The Yankees responded with three in the fourth. Rodriguez ripped
a one-out double high off the right-field wall and Robinson Cano
walked. Teixeira doubled to right, scoring Rodriguez and sending
Cano to third.
Raul Ibanez followed with a first-pitch single to left, scoring
Cano for a 2-1 lead. Teixeira scored on Andruw Jones’ single.
NOTES: No. 31 had been worn by 41 former Yankees coaches or
players, including Tim Raines and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. …
It was the eighth time in club history that the Mariners played at
home the day after the longest flight in the American League (2,510
miles) from Tampa Bay. They are 4-4 in those games. … Mariners 1B
Justin Smoak went hitless in three at-bats and is riding an
0-for-19 streak. … Millwood has given up 32 hits to Suzuki, more
than any other pitcher.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)