Mariners Insider Blog

Ichiro's ulcers began even before WBC games

An emotional Ichiro Suzuki all but begged his general manager and manager to let him play despite ulcers, but Jack Zduriencik said he couldn't let himself be persuaded.

"This was serious," Zduriencik said. "We had to take the decision out of his hands, because he did not want to do this. We put him on the disabled list He wanted to negotiate."

On the DL for the first time in his major league career, Ichiro told doctors his stomach had been bothering him since before the World Baseball Classic began last month, and that he had taken medications to ease the pain.

"He was treating the symptoms, so when he got to Arizona and started feeling light-headed and tired, we had a pretty good idea where to start looking," Dr. Mitch Storey said. "It might have been caused by bacteria, by stress, which produces acid – we don't know yet, but with the tests we took, we should know Monday."

Ichiro began a course of medication and rest, limited to a strict schedule of when and how long he could work out for the next few days.

"You're talking about a warrior, and telling him he wasn't going to be on this team opening day was emotional for him," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Everyone on this team knows what he was willing to risk to play. We couldn't let him risk it."

Ichiro stayed behind in Peoria for a few days when the team flew to Las Vegas on Saturday morning. He was not happy, but he understood the decision.

Storey said ulcers typically require three or four weeks of treatment, but that Ichiro had begun healing last week when Wakamatsu forced the issue by sending him home and barring him from working out with the team over a three day period.

Because Ichiro was placed on the DL retroactive to March 31, he'll be eligible to come off for the Mariners second home game of the season on April 15 - if there are no complications.

"I don't see any reason he won't be able to play in two weeks," Storey said.

Ulcers are relatively rare among players – Zduriencik joked that general managers often get them – but Storey said that's because they are often caught early.

"If a player complains of stomach pains, we usually take care of that with medication and it doesn't go further," Storey said. "Ichiro played with it, would have one good day, then a bad one, but didn't stop playing or working."

For now, he has.