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Wednesday afternoon notes: Ichiro trying to earn playing time

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 19, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Ichiro Suzuki

When Ichiro Suzuki speaks to American media, he uses a translator. But he doesn’t really need one.

This morning, Ichiro was asked how he felt this offseason when the Yankees signed two high-profile free agents, essentially forcing Ichiro into a backup role. Ichiro’s translator, Allen Turner, was relaying Ichiro’s answer — “My reaction was, kind of like…” — when Ichiro chimed in with one word of perfect English.


It was Ichiro’s funny way of handling a situation that can’t be very comfortable for him. This is his 14th Major League season, and he was a Japanese star long before that. Now it seems likely that he’ll be a fifth outfielder, used mostly for pinch running and late-inning defense.

“This is a place where the greatest players gather and play, so I’m really excited to play with those guys,” Ichiro said. “Obviously with the additions, I’m going to have to find a place for myself, but I worked hard this offseason. I worked on a lot of things, and throughout spring training, hopefully those things will come together and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Did he think about the possibility of being traded?

“When you’re here with the Yankees, you tend to think about those things,” he said. “You just never know with the great players coming here. I thought about a lot of things, which a lot of players do.”

So, would he rather play for a team with more guaranteed playing time? Ichiro answered quickly in Japanese, and he was laughing as he spoke. When Allen translated, we understood why.

“(I’m) not going to fall for questions like that,” he said.

Eduardo Nunez· There was no workout for position players today, but one player did take ground balls. Eduardo Nunez was out there for quite a while with infield coach Mick Kelleher. He was taking grounders at both third base and shortstop. I saw him botch one, but it’s hard to take much meaning from a session like that.

· Over at the minor league complex, Manny Banuelos threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. He faced hitters in simulated games late last year, but this was his first time throwing to hitters after a long winter of rest. “Good, good, feels pretty good,” he said. “All my pitches worked. Velocity is good. I didn’t throw, like, 100 percent because it was the first time, but it feels pretty good. … I’m happy man. It feels strong, feels good.”

· Brett Gardner on his expected move back to left field: “I played over there for a couple of years a few years ago. I feel comfortable over there. I told Joe I can play right too if he needs me to. I’ll do whatever I’m needed to do to help the team win. Wherever I’m playing out there, wherever I’m hitting in the lineup, whatever he needs me to do, I’ll be ready.”

· Honestly, with all of the Derek Jeter buzz, there really wasn’t much talk about the other bullpens and BP sessions that happened today. Jeter pretty thoroughly overshadowed everything else. Girardi said only that everyone is healthy. It might be back to business as usual tomorrow, but for today, it was all about Jeter. Pitchers were even joking about that this morning, that absolutely no one was going to be writing about anything they did today.

Yankees Jeter Retirement Baseball· Random observation in the clubhouse: Occasionally you hear about how nice Jeter is to the young guys and the new guys in the clubhouse. At one point this morning, I noticed someone rushing over to Jeter’s locker to show him pictures on a cell phone. It was Antoan Richardson, the minor league free agent just signed this winter. How that guy already has a joking, laughing relationship is beyond me. Must have gotten to know one another at the Himes complex. I just thought it was cool to see it.

· Tomorrow is the first full-squad workout, and Girardi said he’s not particularly worried about finding out whether Jeter can still play shortstop or whether he can still hit. Seems like the Yankees are basically banking on those things. “The biggest thing for me is seeing how he responds going back-to-back, back-to-back-to-back, back-to-back-to-back-to-back, that sort of thing,” Girardi said. “And trying to get a thought in my mind how many days you can push him in a row. That’s the biggest thing for me. I feel good about running him out there every day, it’s just how many days in arrow and what can I learn in spring training and early in the season and what can I do.”

· Girardi also downplayed the possibility of pulling Jeter for late-inning defense. “My goal is, when I run him out there, is to run him out there for nine innings,” Girardi said. Honestly, I’m starting to think Brendan Ryan’s role as a late-inning defensive replacement might be more likely at second or third than at shortstop, but we’ll have to wait and see.

· Let’s give the last word to Hal Steinbrenner. During his press conference, Jeter said he tried to call Steinbrenner the night before his retirement announcement, but Jeter never returned his call. “I didn’t recognize the area code,” Steinbrenner said. “I didn’t check the voice mail until the next day. It said Florida, and it was some crazy area code. My bad. Usually somebody texts me, and that’s what he did the next day. He texted me and I called him right away. My bad. I don’t check voice mail. I have to be better about that. It was a surprise. I figured he was calling to talk about the team and what improvements we needed to make still. It was a surprise, but again, we’ve got a whole year.”

Associated Press photos





80 Responses to “Wednesday afternoon notes: Ichiro trying to earn playing time”

  1. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    “The biggest thing for me is seeing how he responds going back-to-back, back-to-back-to-back, back-to-back-to-back-to-back, that sort of thing,” Girardi said

    Does Girardi say stuff like this on purpose to make you guys write such a silly sentence?

  2. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I think there is definitive proof that A-rod draws, because we know the ratings spiked when he came back, but imagine last years team with Jeter AND Cano. They draw more than they did? I really doubt it.

    Winning draws.

  3. Shame Spencer February 19th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    “I don’t check voice mail. I have to be better about that.”


    Cannot stop laughing out loud right now…

  4. Shame Spencer February 19th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Arod and Jeter are not just icons (for different reasons, fine) but are baseball icons. I just don’t think an uptick when Arod comes back is one of those things that is proof that Cano doesn’t draw. That’s just faulty logic.

  5. RadioKev February 19th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Hal only Snapchats

  6. Shame Spencer February 19th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    They even transcend baseball.. forget that, they’re pop culture icons. People know those guys that don’t even understand the basic rules of baseball.

  7. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    cashman just said on francessa (he’ll probably say the same thing on kay) that just today at a meeting they discussed the b/u 1b situation and that he can’t talk about it yet b/c the player (might have said players) needs to be spoken to about it.

    MF asked if ichiro as the b/u 1bman had been discussed and Cashman said he had not been discussed in today’s reference.

    Johnson had previously been mentioned as a possible b/u 1B so i dont think he meant KJ.

    They’re not going to move Gardner or Elsbury to b/u 1b

    so by process of elimination in order of likelihood i’d say it was :
    beltran and/or soriano and/or mccann

  8. Shame Spencer February 19th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Beltran makes the most sense as a 1B back up followed by McCann. McCann will start getting time there I just don’t think there’s any need for it this season.

  9. RadioKev February 19th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t think McCann should back up first base. He should catch, DH, or have full days off. Only in a couple of years should he get into the first base picture.

  10. blake February 19th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    “he also said that Brian Roberts “was the best guy on the board when robbie came off””

    this is laughably false……Infante was better and Drew was and still is the best infielder available after Cano

  11. Hankflorida February 19th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    It is hard for me to understand why such a great player like Suzuki would accept being a bench player when he is on the verge of reaching 3000 hits. The Yankees should trade him to a team that could guarantee him a full time job for the next two years. In modern baseball, if Suzuki reaches 3000 hits in 15 years, would that make him the only player in the history of baseball to reach that mark in such a short period of time?

  12. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    He meant ‘best guy in the dumpster’

  13. RadioKev February 19th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    You want McCann behind the plate for as long as he can handle it. It’s a waste of resources to stick him at first at this point in his career.

  14. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    i think they just want mccann to concentrate on recieving this pitching staff this year, which is why I put sori ahead of mccann. but sori’s footwork was notoriously bad as a 2bman and initially as an OF.

    Beltran is a great athelete with good timing and quick feet, he stole over 40 bags twice. Not that he’s fast now or needs to be fast at 1B but footwork is the main obstacle to overcome when moving there.

    otoh sori’s been an infielder and beltran hasn’t.

  15. spoiledyankfan February 19th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Nuny botched a grounder? Beyond belief.

  16. RadioKev February 19th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    There’s a non-zero chance Roberts turns in a better year than Infante. Infante isn’t exactly a world-beater.

  17. Mottsx February 19th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    No one wants Ichiro in trade, perhaps thats why hes not being moved?

  18. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I agree, I’d put Beltran at the top, followed by McCann, then Soriano if I were handicapping this mystery backup.

  19. CountryClub February 19th, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Not sure if this was posted earlier or not:

    A look at how many infield hits Cano cost himself over the years. It also looks at how many hits Jeter picked up because of his style.

  20. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    There’s a non-zero chance Roberts turns in a better year than Infante. Infante isn’t exactly a world-beater.

    Non-zero but close to zero. The only advantage Roberts offered over Infante is the cost of obtaining him.

  21. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    i agree that ichiro should be on a team that will play him alot more than the yankees will. he’s better than alot of OFs i saw out there last year.
    however, he asked for and got a 2 year deal with the Yankees and if he’s not deserving of more playing time on the Yankees, that’s not the Yankees problem, he’s still getting paid.

    That being said, I’d sure like to see the Yankees find a place to move Ichiro where he can play and I expect they will at some point.

  22. blake February 19th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    “There’s a non-zero chance Roberts turns in a better year than Infante. Infante isn’t exactly a world-beater.”

    I think i’d rather take a 2 million dollar flyer on Roberts too than give Infante that contract…..but Infante was a better option if we are just talking about likelyhood of actually playing and producing…….and Drew is significantly better than them both.

  23. Chip February 19th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Best case scenario for Ichiro and the Yankees is that he looks really good this spring, Sori, Gardner, Ellsbury and Beltran stay healthy and then Ichiro gets traded before the season starts in a move that adds a little infield depth.

    I also assume that either Cervelli or Romine will be dealt before spring training ends.

    Keep an eye on Danny Valencia of the Royals. He’s out of options, the team has a real roster crunch going on with a lot of other guys out of options as well and so he could be available.

    He played fairly well in a back-up role with the O’s last year and is murder on LHP.

  24. RadioKev February 19th, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Non-zero but close to zero. The only advantage Roberts offered over Infante is the cost of obtaining him.

    That is really the only advantage, you’re right. Which maybe shouldn’t be a reason for the Yankees. But I personally don’t like that Infante contract much.

    I think we all know Roberts has more talent than Infante too. At least he had. They’re obviously taking a gamble on his health to see if he can find it again.

    Let’s just say I the sliding scale of dumpster diving, I like Roberts more than I like Grady Sizemore.

  25. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Yea the Infante contract was pretty huge, so I think its ok that the Yankees passed there. I just really dislike that Brian Roberts is our starting 2B right now. He is 36 and hasnt been good for a while. And Drew is still out there…

    Although he was a steroid guy so maybe he is on that new stuff :evil:

  26. Chip February 19th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I still believe that the Yankees’ interest in Drew will depend on where Diaz signs.

    In theory they should pursue both – start Drew at 3b and Diaz at SS in Scranton to see if he can handle the position or move him to 2b.

    But I think that if they miss out on Diaz they will go after Drew.

  27. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    ichiro is in a tough position. he’s getting paid but will not see any playing time.
    nobody wants his contract and the yankees don’t want to pay someone to take it.
    you can’t really demand a trade from the bench nor when your employers would need to pay off your salary to get rid of you.
    If the Yankees released him, someone would pick him up at the minimum but then he wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time or even a roster spot for very long because it would be so cheap to release him again to clear a roster spot.

  28. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Ichiro needs 2 years no matter what to get 3000 hits, so he can play part time (with opportunity for more if he plays well) with the Yankees and finish it out next year as a starter on a desperate team.

  29. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    i see ichiro even getting around the 34 games 113 AB’s that almonte got last year.

  30. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    That’s if ichiro played the whole season as a Yankee, which he won’t

  31. blake February 19th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    “But I think that if they miss out on Diaz they will go after Drew.”

    I’d like to think so but it may be that Hal has just cut the money off……

  32. bbb51 February 19th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Girardi said he thinks Kelly Johnson will be the 1B backup.

  33. bbb51 February 19th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Ichiro wouldn’t have to demand a trade, he is a big enough star and respected enough that he could just request for them to try, and they would probably oblige.

    But they could have already tried to trade him and there were no takers. Perhaps a spot will open up preseason or mid-season.

  34. blake February 19th, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Buster Olney ?@Buster_ESPN 12m
    ICYMI: Jeter talks about his first conversation with anyone about retiring, and what he is capable of in 2014.

  35. blake February 19th, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Joel Sherman ?@Joelsherman1 14m
    Column Jeter uses his “media gathering” to send a message to #Yankees teammates what/s important in farewell season

  36. Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Johnson can backup 1B if they need a steady guy there. But right now, he’s preparing to switch to 3B while being the primary b/u at 2B and being ready to help at SS if jeter is hurt. So stretching him over to b/u 1B is a bit much.

    beltran is prepping for p/t OF duty so he’ll have the time to devote to it in ST if they go that route.

    i think it’s a good idea if Beltran is open to it.

  37. Chip February 19th, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Ys Guy February 19th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    ichiro is in a tough position. he’s getting paid but will not see any playing time.
    nobody wants his contract and the yankees don’t want to pay someone to take it.
    you can’t really demand a trade from the bench nor when your employers would need to pay off your salary to get rid of you.

    The only way the Yankees can trade Ichiro is if they a) take back a large chunk of his salary or b) pick up a player who has a similar contract.

    If you go with B some guys who could fit that bill include:

    Jeff Keppinger (add depth to the infield)
    JJ Putz (obvious depth to the bullpen)
    Luke Hocheaver or Wade Davis (pen depth)
    Jonathan Broxton

  38. MTU February 19th, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    I’d do Putz for Ichiro in a heartbeat.

  39. MTU February 19th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Or in a NY minute.

  40. pete2 February 19th, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    If Jeter has a good first half I think he changes his mind about retirement. Retiring first is a good way to prevent looking like being forced to retire. I think even Jeter is not sure how this season is going to go, so is just hedging his bets.
    This possibility may be holding the Yankees back from signing Drew, although for reasons that have been expressed ad nauseam, it shouldn’t.

    I like Ichiro as a backup who gets limited playing time. Defensive replacement. Pinch runner. Occasional start for Beltran or Ellsbury against a weak team. Ellsbury and Gardner have been known to miss some games. Awful 2nd half last year killed the team, a team that already had multiple lethal wounds and needed him to step up, so he has nobody else to blame. On games he is scheduled to start, assuming Joe announces it early enough, Ichiro can still draw fans to the park (mainly on days Tanaka and Kuroda are not pitching)

  41. blake February 19th, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    “If Jeter has a good first half I think he changes his mind about retirement”

    I don’t think there is any way he changes his mind

  42. trisha - true pinstriped blue February 19th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I think I just joined the aching muscles club. And saved myself $30. My guy still hadn’t shown up so I took matters into my own hands! I’m hoping a warm shower and some advil will ward off any bad effects.


  43. pete2 February 19th, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Ysguy. First I heard of Johnson backing up SS. Never played there in the majors and at 32 I doubt he gets a shot there. But your main point is correct with Johnson the 3Bman and also backing up at 1B and 2B. This means Nunez is going to get a lot of playing time at 3B (and maybe SS on days Girardi needs more than a pitcher hitting at SS and Jeter is not available).

  44. Giuseppe Franco February 19th, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Like Mo, I don’t think there’s any chance of Jeter changing his mind about retirement.

  45. austinmac February 19th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    The Cards are going after Diaz according to an MLBTR note.

  46. blake February 19th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    austinmac says:
    February 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm
    The Cards are going after Diaz according to an MLBTR note.

    Good enough for me…..that means they should sign him

  47. blake February 19th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Basically anybody the Cards, Rays, or rangers are after the Yankees should sign

  48. Jerkface February 19th, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Perhaps Yankees scouts and evaluators could attach themselves to the underbelly of various Dodger, Ray, Ranger, and Cardinal scouts like remora fish.

  49. MTU February 19th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    new one ——->

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