SEATTLE – Ichiro Suzuki won’t be between the lines for the Seattle Mariners anymore, but he’ll still be in the ballpark.
The Mariners announced Thursday that Ichiro will transition to the role of special assistant to the chairman, effective immediately.
What does that mean, exactly?
Most importantly, it means the Mariners’ all-time hits leader has probably finished his playing career.
He ended up with 3,089 hits in MLB, along with 117 home runs, 509 stolen bases and 780 RBIs in 9,929 at bats across 18 seasons. He also racked up 1,278 hits with Japan’s Orix Blue Wave, giving him an all-time best 4,367 hits as a professional baseball player.
It also means he’ll likely retire as a Mariner. He leads the M’s with 2,542 hits, a .322 batting average, 79 triples and 438 stolen bases.
Ichiro's agent, John Boggs, told FOX's Ken Rosenthal that the outfielder hasn't completely put the kibosh on his playing days.
“He is not retiring," Boggs reportedly said. "He’s taking on a different role for 2018, and 2019 has yet to evolve.”
Rosenthal also said Boggs left the door open for Ichiro to return next season for the Mariners' season opener, as they'll travel to Japan for a two-game series against the A's in Tokyo.
Going forward, the club says Ichiro will work with the Mariners’ major league staff, high-performance staff and front office, and he’ll assist with outfield play, base-running and hitting. He’ll also mentor players and staff.
“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a press release. “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.”
Right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel was called up from Tacoma to take Ichiro's spot on the roster.