NEW YORK – Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka was surprised Friday with the news that Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has been placed on the disabled list with an ulcer.
“You’re kidding!,” Matsuzaka said when he heard the news from reporters. “It’s stress related, isn’t it? He must’ve been in that severe state (during the World Baseball Classic).”
Suzuki hit only .130 in six “packed” WBC exhibition games in Japan, and his struggle continued for much of the 16-nation tournament before a 4-for-6 performance in the March 23 final raised his batting average from .211 to .273.
During the WBC, the Mariners superstar often skipped rides with the team bus and arrived at stadiums early for batting practice to try to break out of his slump.
“I’m sure he was pushing himself very hard. He never showed that to us, though. I just hope that he will recover soon,” Matsuzaka said. The Red Sox are now in New York for two exhibition games at Citi Field, the Mets’ new ballpark.
Suzuki has gone on the DL for the first time since he started his major league career in 2001 and will miss at least the first eight games of the season.
Mariners teammate Kenji Johjima, who also played in the WBC, said, “Ichiro-san told me during the WBC that he had not been able to get enough sleep.”
“He said he did not have a cold and was wondering if it was because of a jet lag,” Johjima said.
On Tuesday, the Mariners will play a season opener without Suzuki for the first time since 2000. Suzuki has missed only 16 games over the past eight seasons, most of them just to give him some rest.
“If it’s a stomach ulcer, he doesn’t have to undergo surgery. It was good to find that out early. We have stress all the time. I don’t think his illness is something to do with the WBC,” said Sadaharu Oh, who guided Japan to its inaugural WBC title in 2006.
Oh had his stomach removed in July 2006 after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. “He hasn’t gotten cancer like I did. I don’t think it will be serious,” Oh said.