Ichiro Makes a Pleasant Summer Pickup for Yanks
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on July 26, 2012.
The Yankees are hoping Ichiro Suzuki will show he still has plenty left in the tank.
There wasn’t much to celebrate during the Yankees’ dreadful 2-5 west coast road trip. They were swept by the red-hot Oakland A’s, losing all four games by a one-run margin. To make matters worse, fans who couldn’t stay up for the whole game Tuesday night against the Mariners awoke to the unpleasant news that Alex Rodriguez was drilled in the wrist by a pitch and suffered a fracture. He’ll be out at least 6-8 weeks.
The one bright spot was New York’s acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki. On Monday, news broke that the Yankees traded prospects D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to Seattle in exchange for the Japanese outfielder, who has spent his entire MLB career with the Mariners.
Speculation arose that the Yankees were going to attempt to acquire an outfielder before the July 31 trade deadline. Brett Gardner is likely to miss the rest of the season because of an elbow injury. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. The need for an outfielder heightened when Nick Swisher left last Friday’s game with a strained hip flexor. He is day-to-day, but will most likely play this weekend.
Yes, the speculation was there, but the names batted around had been Justin Upton and Shane Victorino. Ichiro was a surprise, and a pleasant one, if you ask me.
The 38-year-old has posted a career .322 batting average in the United States. A perennial fan favorite, he has been an All-Star ten times. Ichiro is the only other player besides Fred Lynn in 1975 to be awarded both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season. He has also earned ten Gold Glove awards.
This impressive resume indicates that Ichiro can contribute excellent defense as well as rally-starting offense. Ichiro has always been more of a singles guy than a power hitter, and frankly, that’s refreshing in this Yankee lineup. They have plenty of power hitters; what they need is someone who can come through in a big spot.
Something else Ichiro can bring to the Yankee lineup that has seriously been lacking is speed. He stole his first base in a Yankee uniform on Monday night, giving him 16 on the season. The scrappy speedster has stolen 30 or more bases in ten out of his eleven MLB seasons. He can also serve as a lead-off hitter on Derek Jeter’s off-days. Although with Alex Rodriguez now out of the lineup, it appears Joe Girardi may drop Jeter to his old No. 2 spot and allow Ichiro to lead off regularly.
Ichiro seems excited about leaving the bottom-feeding Mariners in favor of a chance for his first postseason appearance since 2001.
“I really feel like when I get [to Yankee Stadium] I want to show the fans what I can do,” he said through his interpreter.
He didn’t have to travel far to make his debut with his new squad; the Yankees opened up a three-game set in Seattle on Monday, the same day the trade was made. Ichiro went 3-for-12 in the series, which the Yanks took two games to one. He played all three games in right field, but is expected to move to left when Swisher returns.
The uncanny coincidence in the Yankees’ schedule also gave Ichiro a chance to say good-bye to his loyal fans, many of whom still cheered for him despite his uniform swap. In fact, they gave him a standing ovation during his first at-bat in the series.
The laid-back outfielder will essentially be thrown into the Bronx Zoo this weekend, as the Yanks open up a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.
Ichiro Suzuki, meet the Bleacher Creatures.