JUPITER, FLORIDA – The 16th year of Ichiro Suzuki’s major-league career began Tuesday, when he reported to spring training ahead of his second season with the Miami Marlins.
The 42-year-old, who is approaching the iconic major-league milestone of 3,000 hits, said baseball at this stage of his career was a balancing act.
“It’s absolutely not all fun,” Ichiro told reporters at the Marlins camp. “It’s exhausting for the most part, but I think I’m capable of striking a balance (by now).
“Today is a happy day for everyone, a day everyone tries their best. For that reason, it’s the hardest day to figure out (what the real situation is).”
Despite his age, a younger teammate could not match Ichiro’s 60-meter long-toss throws, having to return the ball to the Japanese veteran on a hop.
The Marlins have a new manager, with former Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly taking over in Miami, but much of the buzz is about new hitting coach Barry Bonds. The major leagues’ career home run leader will be back in uniform for the first time since 2007.
Bonds, who has taken up cycling since leaving the game, has slimmed down from the powerful, bulked-up home run hitter he became at the end of his career and resembles the trim athletic outfielder he was earlier in his career.
“He’s gotten much smaller,” Ichiro said. “His being here is different. I’m curious to see how he connects with the different players.”
Ichiro played in 153 games in 2015, when the Marlins’ three main outfielders were plagued by injuries. He did not want to speculate about his opportunities to play this season and how long it would take him to get the 65 hits needed to reach 3,000.
“Our three regular outfielders need to be fit for the entire year,” Ichiro said. “But the reality is, things don’t always turn out the way you want it to. But since I’m the backup, it’s a little tough for me to comment on.
“If I was able to hold down a spot as the regular leadoff hitter, I’d be able to say I can do it in two months. Unfortunately, that’s not how it is, so it’s difficult to comment.”
Last season, Ichiro had 91 hits in 398 at-bats for a .229 batting average. He scored 45 runs and drove in 21.
Reyes placed on leave
NEW YORK — Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was placed on paid leave Tuesday under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy pending completion of criminal proceedings. He will not report to spring training.
The 32-year-old Reyes, a four-time All-Star, was arrested in Hawaii at a Maui resort on Oct. 31, following an argument with his wife and pleaded not guilty to a charge of abuse of a family or household member. He was released after posting $1,000 bail and is scheduled for a trial starting April 4, the day the Rockies open the season at Arizona.