Exactly one month ago — at almost exactly this time on July 23 — the Yankees were about to begin a three-game series in Seattle when reports of a trade began to hit the internet. Ichiro Suzuki was coming to the Yankees.
“I can always tell you I worried about him when we had to face him on the other side,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I can’t tell you if he needed to be rejuvenated, but he’s played well for us, I can tell you that.”
Truth is, Ichiro has been better than the Yankees could have hoped.
At 38 years old, Ichiro’s Hall of Fame career seemed to have reached a dead end. He’d slumped in 2010 and flat out struggled in 2011. He was hitting .261/.288/.353 with the Mariners when the Yankees swapped two minor league pitcher to acquire him. With the Yankees, he’s hit .302/.323/.469 with three home runs in 96 at-bats (only one fewer than he had in 402 at-bats with the Mariners).
He’s delivered the speed element and improved defense that the Yankees were hoping for, and he’s added a more productive bat than they could have expected. He’s brought a quirky, funny personality to the clubhouse, where he seems wildly popular.
“He’s played extremeley well,” Girardi said. “He’s added the speed element, defense, hit some pretty big home runs. We saw that the other night. I think he fits well in our clubhouse. I think that the guys enjoy having him, and I think he enjoys being here.”
Associated Press photo