A year ago, manager Don Wakamatsu said, he watched Ichiro Suzuki report to camp quietly, go to his locker and dress for his first workout.
On Tuesday, Ichiro walked into a crowded Seattle Mariners clubhouse and, as Wakamatsu observed, ‘there were hugs all around.’
Ichiro, it seems, has not only been embraced by his teammates, he’s returned the favor. Before he got to his locker, Mike Sweeney was on him, and then Ken Griffey Jr. demanded his man-hug.
“Ah, George!” Ichiro said during that embrace, calling Griffey by his seldom-used first name.
"I feel very comfortable here this spring," Ichiro said. "For a few years, it seemed we had new coaches every year, but this year we only have one new coach. If you're going to hug someone, it has to be someone you know."
Ichiro also took partial credit for the team re-signing Griffey, saying "Junior only came back to do things to me, pull more pranks."
Once Griffey had signed, Ichiro said he sent him a 'tub' of saki, and Griffey said it was more than huge.
"With the crate it came in, it weighed 200 pounds," Junior said.
He also talked about the addition of Chone Figgins, and even deferred to him at one point.
"I can hit and play outfield, he can hit and play the outfield and the infield, so he can do more," Ichiro said, then brightened. "I can pitch, though."