Seattle Mariners announced that Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is transitioning to the role of Special Assistant to the Chairman, effective today.
Right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel has been selected from AAA Tacoma to fill Ichiro’s spot on the Major League, 25-man, roster. (See separate release.)
In his new role, Ichiro will continue to be an active presence with the Major League club, both at home in Seattle and on the road.
“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” Dipoto said. “This new role is a way to accomplish that. While it will evolve over time, the key is that Ichiro’s presence in our clubhouse and with our players and staff improves our opportunity to win games. That is our number-one priority and Ichiro’s number-one priority.”
Ichiro will work in collaboration with the Mariners Major League Staff, High Performance Staff and Front Office personnel. He will assist, based on his experience, with outfield play, baserunning and hitting. And he will provide mentorship to both players and staff.
“With Ichiro’s track record of success, his personality, his unique perspective and his work ethic, he is singularly positioned to impact both our younger players and the veterans in the clubhouse,” Dipoto continued. “We really don’t want him to change anything that he’s doing right now, with the exception that he will not be playing in games.
“We believe that Ichiro’s signing and his assimilation into our team has helped us this season and we want to make sure we continue that.”
Ichiro’s new role will preclude him from returning to the active roster in 2018.
“While this agreement only covers the 2018 season, it is our goal that Ichiro be a member of the Seattle organization long-term,” Dipoto said. “As his role evolves over the 2018 season, it will inform the team and Ichiro on his best fit with us in 2019 and beyond.”
Ichiro, 44, ranks 21st all-time in MLB history with 3,089 career hits, including 2,542 as a Mariner. After amassing 1,278 hits during a 9-year career (1992-2000) with the Orix Blue Wave of Japan’s Pacific League, Ichiro has totaled 4,367 between MLB and Japan. On Aug. 7, 2016, he recorded his 3,000th career hit in the Major Leagues – a triple – becoming one of 31 players to reach that milestone. Ichiro is one of seven players to collect at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases in the Major Leagues, joining Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Honus Wagner.
Ichiro began his Major League career with the Mariners, taking the American League by storm during his rookie campaign of 2001. After winning his first of two American League batting titles while also leading the league in hits and stolen bases in 2001, Ichiro was named the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year while also earning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. He joined Boston’s Fred Lynn (1975) as the only players in either league to claim MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The 2001 season marked Ichiro’s first of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits – a Major League record – including a single-season Major League record 262 hits in 2004.
From 2001 to 2010, Ichiro won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and made 10 straight trips to the All-Star Game. He is one of six outfielders in Major League history to earn at least 10 Gold Gloves, joining Roberto Clemente (12), Willie Mays (12), Ken Griffey Jr. (10), Andruw Jones (10) and Al Kaline (10). Ichiro’s 10 All-Star Game appearances are tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most by a Mariner. In the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Ichiro was named Most Valuable Player after going 3-for-3 with the first inside-the-park home run in ASG history.
Among the Mariners all-time leaders in club history, Ichiro ranks 1st in hits (2,542), batting (.322), at-bats (7,902), triples (79) and stolen bases (438) while ranking 2nd in games (1,859) and runs (1,181), 3rd in doubles (295) and total bases (3,292), 4th in extra-base hits (473) and 5th in RBI (633) and walks (516).
During his career with Orix, Ichiro, a native of Kasugai, Aichi prefecture, Japan, led the Pacific League in batting average for a Japanese-record seven consecutive seasons. He was a 3-time league MVP and was named to the Pacific League’s “Best Nine” for seven consecutive years while also earning seven consecutive Gold Gloves. He led Japan to World Baseball Classic Titles in 2006 and 2009.