NEW YORK – The Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki are close to finalizing a one-year deal for the franchise icon to return to Seattle, according to multiple reports Monday.
USA Today first reported the Mariners will bring back the 44-year-old Ichiro, who played in Seattle from 2001-12 during which he was a 10-time All-Star selection and won 10 Gold Gloves. He was the 2001 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year, and in 2004 set the major league season record for hits with 262 when he batted .372.
The Mariners are looking to add depth to their outfield with three of their top four outfielders currently dealing with injury issues. Seattle announced earlier Monday that left fielder Ben Gamel will miss four to six weeks with a strained right oblique muscle, jeopardizing his availability for Opening Day.
Ichiro spent the majority of his 17-year major league career in Seattle, signing with the Mariners in 2001 when he was 27 to begin his major league career after he had 1,278 hits while playing nine years for the Orix BlueWave. The Mariners traded him to the Yankees in midseason in 2012, and he spent 2½ years in New York and the last three seasons in Miami. He has a career .312 batting average and 3,080 hits in the majors.
Meanwhile, Yu Darvish will make his spring debut for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, and he’ll be doing so against some familiar faces.
Darvish will face the Los Angeles Dodgers — the team he finished with in 2017 — when he takes the mound at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. Darvish, who was supposed to make his debut last Thursday, has been battling stomach problems in camp.
He’s expected to pitch two to three innings Tuesday.
“His last workout, on the day he wasn’t feeling well, was outstanding,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters Monday afternoon. “I know he wants to get out there and give it a run. I’m eager to watch the whole thing.”
The Cubs signed Darvish to six-year, $126 million contract just before spring training began last month. The 31-year-old went 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 31 starts with the Texas Rangers and Dodgers and had 209 strikeouts in 186⅔ innings. Darvish faltered with the Dodgers in the World Series, allowing eight earned runs to the Houston Astros across 3⅓ innings in his two starts.
Brandon Morrow, who shined for the Dodgers in last year’s World Series, will also be making his Cubs debut Tuesday after signing as a free agent this offseason.