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Ichiro Suzuki has increased his fan base in Miami by one, new Marlins skipper Don Mattingly said Wednesday at the baseball winter meetings.

Mattingly said he was thrilled to manage Ichiro, who is 65 hits shy of reaching 3,000 hits in his big league career.

“I’ve always been a fan,” Mattingly said. “I saw him in his early days in Seattle, when I was coaching with the Yankees. It was really fun to watch. I have a huge amount of respect for Ichiro. His work ethic, the way he goes about it. So I’m looking forward to that (managing him). I think he’s going to be a key component for our club and our clubhouse and part of our development hopefully into playoff contending and playoff team.”

Mattingly said he has already contacted the 42-year-old reserve outfielder.

“I texted with Ichiro and just told him I was looking forward to managing him and excited about being with the Marlins and what I think we’re capable of. I was just happy that he texted me back. That’s always good. That’s a good start with a guy that he’ll text you back.”

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