In his return to Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki joked yesterday about finally realizing just how many Starbucks are scattered throughout this city. He talked about coming to Safeco Field from a downtown hotel, something he’d never done. He mentioned familiar faces in the other clubhouse.
“There’s really no expectations for me,” Ichiro said. “But if there are fans who come out to watch me play, I definitely want to do the best I can for them.”
Safeco cheered Ichiro’s every at-bat last night, and he responded with an RBI single as part of a six-run third inning. In this wildly up-and-down season, Ichiro’s batting average is back up to .269. He’s had some extremely bad periods this season, but he’s been awfully good for the past two weeks or so, including hits in 12 of his past 13 games.
He’s not nearly the player he used to be, but he still has his moments when he’s clearly worth seeing.
“Every season’s different,” Ichiro said. “But even in the year when I hit 262 hits, there’s things I wasn’t doing. As professionals, you tend to be reminded of the bad things that happen. When you’re just an amateur playing Little League or something, you only have the good things that you remember. But as professionals, you go through the stress of performing and doing well on the field. That’s always the case, and I’m always going to have that pressure and stress.”
For better or worse, the Yankees are committed to him for the next two years.
“There’s always things that I could do better, maybe,” Ichiro said. “There’s things that I couldn’t do, maybe. My teammates really picked up the things I wasn’t able to do, and the team is at the point where it’s at now. Obviously, for the remainder of the season, I want to contribute and do the best that I can. How you perform on the field is going to be up or down. But what I can control, what I can do, is always be ready before the game, prepare myself so that I’m in the best condition I can be, in the game. So that’s what I will do, continue to prepare myself the best I can.”
Associated Press photo