Mariners Insider Blog

Why Ichiro Has Stopped Running

Ichiro Suzuki leads the Mariners with 41 stolen bases this season, but hasn't run aggressively in the second half – he has only seven steals since the All-Star break.

Why?

Ichiro said it's because pitchers are hyper-aware of him on base and adjust their deliveries to stop him from running. They slide-step, a tactic that shortens the leg kick and gets the ball to the catcher more quickly.

His manager, Jim Riggleman, has seen it for months.

"Teams do things to stop Ichiro they don't do against anyone else on our team," Riggleman said.

On Sunday, the Mariners stole three bases and set up two of their runs against the Angels. Yet when Ichiro singled in the seventh inning with the game tied, he didn't try to steal.

"Our stolen bases came against Ervin Santana, who had a high leg kick," Riggleman said. "When Ichiro got aboard, Jose Arredondo was pitching – and he used a slide step with Ichiro on first.

"If he'd have run, he'd have been out."

"All teams look at our team, and they see that I am the only base stealer," Ichiro said. "It was different when Willie Bloomquist was here, but now they do everything they can to stop me.

"You cannot do more than you are capable of," Ichiro said. "You should not do less than you are capable of, but you cannot do more or there will be a negative effect."

Like most teams, the Mariners have a stop watch on every opposing pitcher, and a time they look for to maximize a stolen base attempt.

They also know the time it takes for every cattcher in the league to throw to second base.

If those two times combined are in their favor, the Mariners run.

When pitchers use the slide step, the times - and the chances of a successful steal - change.

All base stealers face those odds. Some challenge them.

Ichiro and the team are a bit more conservative.

But they have their reasons - and there they are.

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