Ichiro spoke to the Japanese media representative and then also spoke to the American media postgame. He seemed quite relaxed, evening smiling and laughing a few times. My guess is he would have preferred to play and not have to discuss all of this, but seemed perfectly fine with and understanding of why he had to sit for the game. It wasn't really a full night off because he spent most of the game working out in the cage and warming up for the possibility of going into the game late. That's not surprising in the least.
Here's a transcript of his comments through his translator Antony Suzuki.
With your struggles for the last month and a half, how much do you appreciate your manager giving you a day off?
When you talk about our skipper, he’s very stable. His feelings will never change. More than my will, I think I felt his will stronger than ever because like in today’s situation it’s a tight ball game, I thought would be in there. But he saying I would have the day off, he completely gave me the day off, although I was in the cage since the third inning, working out, throwing balls, hitting off the tee and being prepared. That’s a very strong feeling when you get a feel for his approach.
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When you look back, we had managers that would say, ‘ok you are having the day off,’ but at the end of the day, you would be playing in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning. Now I know how he truly feels, from here on when he does give me a day off, I can sit the bench all day long.
Were you able to relax and not thinking about hitting?
Well, no. Actually from a players standpoint, you don’t’ want to shut it down. You want to be ready. That’s something we all need to have in our heart – to be prepared.
Where does this challenge rate in comparison to other challenges you’ve overcome?
Well, every challenge is big and every accomplishment from what I’ve overcome is big. This is another one. But I feel this time I’m being tested. This is something that I need to overcome. Not just as a baseball player. It’s not about me coming up with good results. It’s about overcoming that as a human being. So that’s what I feel I need to do right now – to overcome that. So as a human being I can be bigger and better.
Does he feel he’s close to overcoming those struggles?
Well that’s just the struggle. That’s not something we can talk about right now. Because even if I were to say yeah that day was great, that’s not going to solve it. It’s not going to take us anywhere.
So does he feel better?
That’s something for everyone else to see and grade and analyze. At the end of the day, it’s all about results. If the results are not there, it’s meaningless. I think that applies to everyone. You guys have to write good articles to have people follow you guys. That applies to us as well.
How do you change the results? Do you change the process of how you hit, or do you improve the way you’ve always hit?
They both apply. There are many answers. There is not just one answer to this game. That’s the tough part. We have to keep ourselves balanced in this game, good and bad, we have to be in between because a bad day doesn’t mean you our struggling. It’s all about the end results. That’s where you have to fight and where you have to be mentally tough.
Like yesterday’s game, if I played today, it may be a different story when you talk about mechanics. You have to be mentally strong enough to say I’m still balanced out and in a good position to where I am tomorrow. It’s not about the end result yesterday or the end result tomorrow, it’s all about mentality.
That’s why you want to keep the same basic approach to your game and not let that sway. Because if you do, then you’ll start to run into big issues.
Is that something you have to fight not to do?
Well, you are always battling against yourself because it’s not just when you have bad days. When you have good days, you are always thinking about it to, to get there. So that’s why it is always on your mind.