Baseball / MLB

Ichiro given 'instructor' role with Mariners

AP, Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Ichiro Suzuki has rejoined the Seattle Mariners as a special assistant to the chairman and will work as an instructor with both the major league club and some of the organization’s players in the minors.

Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners’ executive vice president and general manager of baseball operations, said Suzuki will start in the role on Tuesday. Suzuki will report to Dipoto and will work the majority of Mariners’ home games, predominantly helping players with their pre-game preparations.

Suzuki, who retired from baseball last month following Seattle’s opening two-game series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo, was in the Mariners clubhouse on Tuesday before Seattle opened a series against the Chicago Cubs.

A release by the club said that Suzuki will likely spend some time with the team’s Triple-A franchise in Tacoma, Washington, focusing on developing outfield and base-running play while working with the batting coaches on improving the players’ hitting.

The player known on both sides of the Pacific simply as “Ichiro” joined the Mariners in 2001, becoming a fan favorite across two countries with his unique batting style, speed and defense. That year, he won the American League’s Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards as he helped lead the Mariners to a record-tying 116-win season.

Suzuki, who started his career in 1992 with the Orix BlueWave — now known as the Orix Buffaloes — has more hits in professional baseball than any other Japanese player with 4,367 in Japan and the major leagues.

He’s the most prolific foreign-born MLB hitter with 3,089 hits, and in 2004 he broke an 84-year-old record for hits in a single season, finishing with 262 — five more than baseball legend George Sisler had in 1920.

Suzuki signed with the New York Yankees in 2012 before joining the Miami Marlins in 2015. After returning to the Mariners last year, he was cut last May and given a front office role for the rest of the season.