Slow news day in Yankee Land (which is good or bad these days depending on who you ask), but one tidbit from the Associated Press shows that Ichiro Suzuki is excited about his first full year with the club. The 39-year-old outfielder inked a two-year, $13 million contract earlier this offseason as the Yankees wait to reap the benefits that will come from his quest for 3,000 hits. He came over in a trade from the Seattle Mariners last July and played very well as the Yankees took first place the division and earned the #1 seed in the AL playoffs.
As it stands right now, Ichiro is at 2,606 hits, which is amazing given the fact that he started his major league career at age 27. He’s a hits machine, recording more than 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons. He was only 38 hits away from 300 hits in 2004 when he hit a ridiculous .372/.414/.455 (131 wRC+). Let that single-season hit total sink in a little bit. He was closer to 300 hits than 200, and recording 200 hits in a very good season. Just sayin’.
The Yankees traded for him last July to help bolster their outfield since Brett Gardner was injured throughout the year. They specifically wanted more speed and better defense, and Ichiro didn’t disappoint, he hit .322/.340/.454 (114 wRC+) in 67 games with the club. Many believed the cliche, “A change of scenery” was what helped Ichiro in the latter part of 2012, as his decline in Seattle was well-documented.
The former perennial all-star and MVP candidate told the AP that the Yankees are a special team and that he’s excited to play:
“Signing with the Yankees has given me a new sense of determination. This is a unique team, a team that can have a player like Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter is special and to be part of that is exciting.”
Ichiro is currently training in Japan as he gets himself ready for Spring Training. Unlike his teammates, Andy Pettitte and Mark Teixeira, Ichiro will not be participating in the World Baseball Classic, but added that he’ll be watching.