Ichiro Suzuki still has a double locker in his own corner of the clubhouse. It’s just in the visitor’s side of Safeco Field.
More gray has invaded his hair. His pregame routine is still extended. The veins in his forearms are still pronounced.
Thursday, Ichiro was back at Safeco Field for the first time since being traded to New York last season when, oddly, the Yankees were in town.
The reception to his first plate appearance was polite but well south of enthusiastic. He flew out to right field in his first at-bat and finished the night 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Since joining the Yankees, Ichiro has become downright chatty with the media. He spoke for 10 minutes with Seattle and New York reporters, eschewing his tradition of not talking prior to games.
He joked. Took a couple shots at reporters. And reflected on being traded and being back in Seattle.
Ichiro, who spent 12 years with the Mariners, said returning and heading directly to the visitor’s side was different. He was traded July 23, 2012, for cash and two players, Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell.
“It just really feels weird,” Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. “Obviously, I know this place really well and am really close to it. At the same time, it feels a little distant. It just feels a little weird to be here.”
The day Ichiro was traded was odd. An otherwise average afternoon at the ballpark turned into moving day for an icon.
Now 39, Ichiro is in the first year of a two-year deal with the Yankees. It’s been a struggle. He came into Thursday hitting .266 with a .303 on-base percentage, numbers very similar to the ones he carried (.261, .288) during his last half season with Seattle.
He was asked how much longer he thinks he will play.
“In 2001, when I first came over, if anyone said I would be here 12 years, I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” Ichiro said. “I don’t think I would have said that at that time. It’s really difficult to really plan out what your future holds. Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
BEAVAN BACK, FOR NOW
Following Thursday’s 16-inning loss to the White Sox, the Mariners had to make a pitching move to insure their bullpen had enough bullets for Thursday night.
They called Blake Beavan up and sent Hector Noesi down. They needed him after Aaron Harang was knocked out in the third inning Thursday.
Beavan is open to whatever duties the Mariners throw at him.
“This time around, I think it’ll definitely be better, whether it’s in the bullpen or getting in the rotation again,” Beavan said. “I’m going to do everything I can and be positive and breathe confidence and just go out there and take the ball when they need me to.”
Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will make his second start for the Mariners. The Yankees will put Hiroki Kuroda (6-4, 2.59) on the hill at 7:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.