Death, taxes and Ichiro batting leadoff...until last week all three were undisputed certainties of life.
Now with the announcement by Mariners skipper Eric Wedge that Ichiro will be asked to bat third, it raises questions about whether or not Ichiro at age 38 will be up for the challenge.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Eric Wedge believes this move will help not just Ichiro, but everyone around him...
"'I feel like the bottom line is for us to have the best lineup, one through nine, out there," Wedge said. "I want our lineup to be extended. I feel like our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro hitting third for us. It helps the guy in front of him, it helps the guy behind him."
Up until last season Ichiro seemed destined to play forever with a style so unique, yet so easy to bank upon regardless of how well or more often poorly the Mariners around him fared. Even after a slow start in 2011 most observers continued to wait for Ichiro to break out and go on a tear in reaching 200 hits for the 11th consecutive season.
In the end though, it wasn't meant to be.
Ichiro finished just shy of 200 hits with only 184 and a career-low batting average of .272.
Far from terrible, but well short of the benchmarks Seattle fans had grown accustomed to.
Now in the final year of his contract, Ichiro is being given the chance to redeem himself in an unusual role situated within the heart of the order.
No longer the table setter, Ichiro will now be asked to drive in as well as score runs, and perhaps provide the spark that has been missing from the Seattle offense for several years now.
Can he do it?
Ichiro himself seems to believe...
"'Anything can happen in this game, it's not just leading off," he said, through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "That's the fun part about this game. Like I tell you (media) guys all the time, I'm ready to pitch too. So, like I said, anything is possible."
While it's easy to express doubts, here are 10 reasons I believe Ichiro will not only bounce back, but will ultimately shine at the No. 3 spot in 2012 for the Seattle Mariners.