Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
There's been speculation that Ichiro won't play in the field next year or that he won't even get a start, but I'm here to put those rumors to rest.
We can't tell yet if last season was just an off year or if he has finally begun to decline, but even with that uncertainty, manager Eric Wedge would rather give the (old) franchise player another shot, because it's likely that he'll rebound and have a great .330, 220-hit season.
And if Ichiro is starting, he'll be in right field. There's been talk of putting him at designated hitter, but there's still no one on the team I'd rather have in right field than Ichiro.
As for his spot in the lineup, the Mariners need to move on to a new-style leadoff man. Ichiro is still the fastest player on the team and the best at hitting singles, but he is unparalleled in today's game, so the M's will have to move on relatively soon.
Since the rebuilding phase is in full swing, they need to find a solid leadoff man who they can stick with for at least a few years.
There has been talk about Ichiro's power swing since he got here, but never any real display apart from batting-practice slams and the occasional leadoff home run. If Ichiro is a little farther down in the order, he'll have less pressure to get on base and more freedom to swing away. The result could be a completely different Ichiro than we've ever seen.
How's that sound for the new-look Mariners?