Ichiro Suzuki is older, and not the great hitter that he once was, but he should still be able to help his new team, the New York Yankees, in their push for an American League pennant.
Suzuki joined the Yankees on Monday afternoon, following a trade fromSeattlefor two minor league pitchers. Just a few hours later, he was in a Yankees uniform at the Mariners’ home ball park, Safeco Field, bowing to the fans before his first at-bat.
He hit a single to center and stole second in his debut at the plate for the Yankees in the top of the third inning. After the Yankees won 4-1, Suzuki was busy high-fiving his new teammates with a broad smile on his face.
“Obviously, it looks different being over here,” Suzuki said through a translator. “I was worried about my first at-bat. I was really relieved with the standing ovation. It was a special day today.”
Suzuki not only changed teams, he went from a last-place club in the AL West to a first-place team in the AL East with a chance to win his first World Series.
Ichiro requested a trade a few weeks ago, and after agreeing to conditions set by the Yankees, he waived his no-trade clause and was dealt for right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.
New Yorkwanted Suzuki, 38, to switch positions and hit at the bottom of the lineup. The former Japanese star was hitting a career-low .261 at the time of the trade. He led the AL in batting twice and the majors in hits seven times. His 10 straight seasons with 200 hits or more is a major league record.
“I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins,” Suzuki said. “It’s hard to contain my excitement for that reason.”
Suzuki, a 10-time All-Star, started Monday’s game in right field in place of injured Nick Swisher and batted eighth. Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is likely out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury, so Suzuki will mostly play left field.
Santo inducted into Hall: Ron Santo has finally made it. The former Chicago Cubs’ third baseman was inducted in baseball’s Hall of Fame inCooperstown,N.Y. on Sunday, with his wife Vicki Santo making the acceptance speech.
Santo, who died in 2010, had a long battle with diabetes, losing both legs to the disease. He yearned to get into the Hall of Fame, and many felt he should have been voted in while he was still alive.
On past Hall of Fame election days, Santo would sit at home anxiously awaiting the phone call that would bring happy news. But he was disappointed each time.
The Cubs honored him instead, raising a flag with his number on it at Wrigley Field, and erecting a statue of him outside of the ball park.
“He would have been thrilled to be here and it doesn’t matter how long it took to get here because this was a dream of his,” Vicki Santo said.
Santo was a Cubs color broadcaster on WGN radio after his playing career, and he worked on raising money for JDRF to try to find a cure.
“Ron always believed the Cubs would (win the World Series),” Vicki said. “He always believed we’d find a cure. We can’t let him down.”
Now Santo’s plaque is inCooperstown, which includes highlights from his career, such as: Nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner; 342 career home runs; 2,254 hits; batted .277, with 1,331 RBIs.
StatsWatch: Here are the top fielding shortstops in baseball (through Monday) —
- Brendan Ryan, Mariners. .992 fielding percentage
- J.J. Hardy, Orioles, .989
- Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, .986
- Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, .982
- Cliff Pennington, A’s, .982
Quotable: “He’s not Willie Mays.” — Texas manager Ron Washington on Los Angeles Angels’ rookie star Mike Trout, after the Angels defeated the Rangers 7-4 on Sunday night.
Copyright © 2012 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.