Ichiro Suzuki became the oldest Opening Day starter in left field in baseball history and the second oldest position player all-time to make a start.
But there the spry 44-year-old, 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove outfielder was, running, leaping and snatching a for-sure home run from Jose Ramirez in the top of the third inning.
It send Safeco Field into a frenzy of cheers.
“He said, ‘Skip, that’s routine for me,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I appreciate that. At 44 years old that wasn’t routine for me.”
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Really, Ichiro? Routine?
“Of course,” he said through interpreter Allen Turner.
Check out that play:
Ichiro had manned right field for most all of his previous 12-year stint with the Mariners before he re-signed with them this offseason. But this seems to say that maybe Ichiro wasn’t joking when he said he didn’t want to play until he’s 50 years old, he wants to play until he’s at least 50 years old.
And he followed with an infield single. That was his first hit in a Mariners’ uniform since July 21, 2012.
No, this is not 26-year-old Ichiro — the old time religion lives, as late Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus would have said.
“I’m just so happy to be able to come to Safeco Field and be able to play the game of baseball,” Ichiro said. “Getting to the field every day and getting to play the game — I’m so happy.”
His first hit was a slow dribbler up the middle that second baseman Jason Kipnis couldn’t get to in time to get Ichiro at first. Kipnis’ throw was wide right, anyway.
That was hit No. 3,081 for Ichiro in MLB, which tied him for 21st all-time with Hall of Famer Cap Anson for most hits in MLB history. He later passed Anson with a liner to left field, finishing his day 2-for-4 with a run in the Mariners’ 6-5 loss.
The oldest position player to start on Opening Day was 45-year-old Julio Franco when he started at first base in 2004. The Mariners’ previous oldest position player to start Opening Day for them was 42-year-old Pat Borders at catcher in 2005.
“You just shake your head and marvel at the guy and his ability,” Servais said. “I thought his at-bats were outstanding. He gets the bat on the ball and you keep doing that consistently and you’re going to find some holes. He swung the bat really good today.”