Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ichiro... Like We've Never Seen Before!

It's been stated by Mariners Manager Eric Wedge this off-season that he has talked to Ichiro about the possibility of moving him from the lead off spot in the lineup. A battle that has been an ongoing saga in the Mariners clubhouse for the last couple years. To the fans, it's Ichiro vs. the Manager. Since Wedge began his tenure as the Mariners skipper, he has preached a no nonsense style of management and has had an expectation of players doing what they're expected to do. Ichiro... he's no different.

Ichiro expressed his willingness to do whatever the team needed him to do to win. A sentiment that was not noted last year as his streak of 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons was on the line. Now that his streak is over, maybe his mindset can change. Maybe he doesn't need to hit 165 singles this year. Maybe he understands that he is slowing down a bit and isn't beating out the ground balls that he once used to. In all reality, it doesn't matter what Ichiro Suzuki thinks anymore. Since coming off a season where he lead the team with a .271 batting average, the truth is, things have to change, for Ichiro and for the entire team.

If Ichiro bats anywhere else besides the number one spot, it changes his game dramatically. If we can get anyone on base before he gets up to the plate it changes his role. Where he hits will determine how much his role will change. This is what gets me a little excited.

We've all seen or heard about Ichiro's magnificent display of power that he shows in every single batting practice but we have yet to see it in a game. With a very limited display of power in the regular season, averaging about 8 HR's a year and maxing out at 15 in 2005. Is it possible that Ichiro is determined to finally show the fans another side of his game now that the streak has ended? It seems very unlikely, but I think all of us as fans would love to see what the future holds for Ichiro. In the last year of his contract, could Ichiro pull a rabbit out of his hat and become a player that the organization is asking for? Could he hit 20 HR's and bat .300? If he settles into a role as a number 3 or number 6 hitter, I bet you he could.

There is a lot of opinion on where Ichiro will end up and on whether or not he can be anything other than what he has shown over the past 11 seasons. I believe he can and I am really hoping that we can re-energize the Ichimania that has been a Mariner staple over the current decade. He's been truly amazing and fun to watch, but the tide has definitely turned. So now we wait...

Ichiro, how do you want this legacy to end? With another multi-single year, or an epic display of exciting hitting that has captivated audiences in batting practices? Can't wait for your response on the field.


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