The USS Mariner was the first to post this news locally, so all credit goes to them, but the Mariners star right fielder Ichiro Suzuki threw a bullpen session during WBC workouts with the Japanese team. Apparently he topped out at 91 miles per hour and can throw a forkball. The original post came from nikkansports.com and since I can't read Japanese (despite having a Japanese mother), I have no idea what the story says.
I e-mailed a couple of the Japanese reporters, who follow the Mariners during season, and Masayoshi Niwa, wrote back saying it was more of a "just in case" situation where Ichiro would be the last option for the manager. Masa also reminded me that Ichiro was a pitcher in his younger days.
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Nagoya's Aikodai Meiden Kôkô, where Ichiro was primarily used as pitcher instead of an outfielder, owing to his exceptionally strong arm.
During a Japanese all-star game, Ichiro was brought into a game to pitch against Hideki Matsui, but the opposing manager put in somebody else instead. Here's a video of it.
Ichiro always maintained that he could be a pitcher, he wanted the chance to pitch last season when the Mariners put Jamie Burke on the mound last season.
"Every time I see a catcher's glove I want to pitch," Ichiro said a few days after Burke pitched in the Mariners 2-1 extra inning loss.
Perhaps he will being closing games for the Japanese team.
If only we could check out the blood pressure readings of Jack Zduriencik and other Mariners execs upon hearing this news or seeing this picture.
It's just another indicator of the ridiculous amount of talent Ichiro has. While I think it's pretty cool that he can do that, if I was a Mariners' executive or fan, I don't know that having him pitching is the best idea.
But it does remind me of this ...