Yesterday on Monday July 23, 2012 38-year-old Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees. The Seattle Mariners traded Suzuki, their 10-time All-Star outfielder to the New York Yankees in exchange for two right-handed pitchers, D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. So far this season Suzuki has 406 at-bats with an average of .261. MLB’s first Japanese-born position player, Ichiro Suzuki has played right field for the Seattle Mariners his entire major league career. As a Mariner, Suzuki has won two AL batting titles, 10 Golden Glove awards, and in 2001 was named AL’s MVP and Rookie of the Year. When asked how he felt about leaving his team Suzuki said, “It is hard for me to concisely express my feelings. When I imagined taking off the Mariner uniform, I was overcome with sadness. It has made this a very difficult decision to make.”
But Suzuki knew it was time for him to continue his career somewhere else. Suzuki is in the last year of his 5-year, $90 million contract, but asked the Mariners to be traded because he did not feel it was best for him to stay with the team during their rebuilding process. Through a translator Suzuki said, “When I spent time during the All-Star break to think, I realized that this team has many players in their early 20s. I began to think I should not be on this team next year. I also started to feel a desire to be in an atmosphere that I could have a different kind of stimulation than I have right now.” When the announcement was made that Suzuki was now a Yankee he said, “I’m going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it’s been hard to maintain my excitement.” The Yankees are also excited to have Ichiro Suzuki on their team. Yankees’ General Manager Joe Girardi said, “We’re very excited to have him. We feel that he brings a speed element, a tremendous hitter. That speed element is something that we lost when (Gardner) had surgery. So this is a big day for us.”
Earlier this season on April 17, 2012 the Yankees lost their left fielder, Brett Gardner when he obtained a season-ending elbow injury. The Yankees hoped he would be able to return but on July 19, 2012 they learned that Gardner would need surgery that a spokesman said “will most likely conclude his season.” The Yankees plan to replace Gardner with Suzuki as their left fielder.
The Yankees announced the trade just hours before their game Monday night against the Seattle Mariners, the first of a three game series in Seattle. Suzuki made his Yankee debut Monday night at Safeco Field against the team and fans he spent many years with. Suzuki was in the Yankees starting lineup as playing the right field position and batting 8th. When Suzuki came onto the field he was wearing the number 31 and not the number 51 that he wore his entire career, because he did not feel right asking the Yankees for a number that has not been worn by a New York Yankee since Bernie Williams. Suzuki received a standing ovation from the Seattle fans showing their love and respect toward him as he approached the plate for his first at bat as a Yankee. He tipped his cap and bowed to the fans as he responded to their loud, applauding cheers. Throughout the game Suzuki continued showing the fans gratitude as he high-fived fans, threw balls into the stands, and tipped his cap. Suzuki had a good first game as a Yankee when he went 1 of 4, got his 16th stolen base, and caught the final out for the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Mariners.
Suzuki will be a good fit for the New York Yankees and is exactly what they were looking for. I was very pleased with the way Ichiro Suzuki handled being traded. Many times you see professional players that handle going to a new team in a way that is very messy and disrespectful. It is always good to see a player that handles such a situation the right way and, I believe it says a lot about their character. It was also great to see the fans showing Suzuki such love, and him returning that love all throughout the game with such class. I am sure Suzuki will continue to have a great career, and may even improve now that he is a Yankee.
Here is a great Suzuki highlights video I found, but please be cautious of the language used in the song.