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Pregame notes: “It’s hard to contain my excitement”

Posted By Chad Jennings On July 23, 2012 @ 9:22 pm In Notes | 45 Comments

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I got into a cab a little more than three hours ago, and on my way to the stadium, I was actually wondering what I was going to write for the newspaper today. I checked twitter out of habit, expecting nothing. That’s when I saw Jack Curry’s tweet.

Remember spring training, when Curry reported that Andy Pettitte was coming out of retirement? My reaction that day and this day were pretty much identical.

“We weren’t on any level of this a week ago,” Brian Cashman said. “But obviously after the Gardner situation, we became more open-minded. I wasn’t certain we would do anything or not, but we were more open-minded to listening what might be available. This was something that was a surprise, an opportunity I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out for us because I do think he can really help us. I look forward to seeing if that’s the case or not.”

Ichiro Suzuki held a press conference in a dark, pinstriped suit. Then he walked over to the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field — the only home ballpark he’s ever known — to try to find his locker in an unfamiliar room.

“I went from a team that has the most losses to a team that’s having the most wins,” he said. “It’s been hard to contain my excitement in that regard.”

I’m going to try to rush through some of the finer points of this trade, but I’m sure there will be much more said and written in the coming days and weeks. For now, here are the nuts and bolts:

[3]• Ichiro is playing right field today, but that’s only because Nick Swisher is still out with that strained hip flexor. Joe Girardi made it clear that Ichiro will be the Yankees regular left fielder. “I haven’t played left for a long time, to be honest with you,” Ichiro said. “The last time I played left was a playoff game, my first playoff game (actually it was his last playoff game), in Yankee Stadium, so it’s a very memorable position for me for that reason.”

• Girardi said Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones will fall into regular DH roles, which suggests it’s actually Eric Chavez who could see his time most significantly affected. “I’ll do more DHing with them when Swisher gets back,” Girardi said. “Then if I feel one of our guys who we’ve been DHing, whether it’s Alex or Jeter, they might just get a full day off in that case.”

• Ichiro will be wearing No. 31, not Bernie Williams’ No. 51. “Of course No. 51 is a special number to me,” Ichiro said. “But when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it’s hard for me to ask for that number. I’d like to have a new number, and then make that my own.”

• Ichiro is batting eighth tonight, and my guess is that he’ll regularly bat there. Girardi would not announce a lineup until he’d had a chance to speak with Ichiro personally. “Because of who he is and what he’s done in this game, I should talk to him first before I talk about what our plans are,” Girardi said. “I think he’s earned that.”

• Ichiro actually approached the Mariners sometime around the All-Star break to ask about being traded. He could tell it was time for the Mariners to play younger guys and move in a new direction. The early trade talks were between team presidents. “This was a conversation that stood above the general managers,” Girardi said. “Randy (Levine) asked me, ‘Would you have an interest in Ichiro? There might be something that could make sense.’ From there we went.”

• Everyone involved said they’re hopeful that a new team will spark Ichiro be more like his old self offensively. “That is my intention,” Ichiro said. “Especially looking at how the Yankees are doing right now, I just want to do whatever I can to be helpful to the Yankees.”

Associated press photos

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