Back where it all started.
Well, not where it started-started, because he started in Japan, but, you know, in MLB. Shut up. I’m excited.
Sure-fire future Hall of Famer, and international Hit King, Ichiro Suzuki will see his time in MLB extended into his age 44 season:
Ichiro Suzuki is getting close to finalizing one year major league deal with #Mariners
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 5, 2018
Barring any kind of last-minute, heart-wrenching snag, the deal will see Ichiro return at last to the team that first brought him over from Japan all the way back in 2001 when he was a spry 27-year-old. Ichiro was traded to the Yankees midseason in 2012, and has been been back with the Mariners since. He also hasn’t really been ICHIRO since then, playing two and a half years with the Yankees and three years with the Marlins as a moderately useful complementary outfielder who was chasing 3,000 hits.
Which is not to say he’s entirely a novelty at this point, but his ability to contribute to the Mariners this year will probably be limited. Still, when a 44-year-old superstar can contribute at all to the team whose cap he’ll don in Cooperstown, I’m good with it.
Peak Ichiro in his early years with the Mariners was such a uniquely talented and fun-to-watch player, posting preposterously high BABIPs and preposterously low strikeout rates. He wasn’t going to to destroy you with a bomb, but he was going to annoy the hell out of you and then dump a single into left center after fouling five off. And then he’d steal a base. And then he’d throw you out at the plate later in the game.
(Random fun fact: the only two players with at least 600 games played during Ichiro’s first decade in the big leagues who come within 10 points of his .357 BABIP during that stretch? Fellow ageless wonder Julio Franco at .350, and Derek Jeter at .348.)
Hopefully there are some fun, throwback moments ahead, even if this is a prelude to a swan song.