Ichiro Transitions to Special Assistant to GM Role, Could Return for 2019 Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2018

Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki stands in the dugout before a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The Seattle Mariners announced Thursday that veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will transition into a front-office role for the Mariners as special assistant to the chairman, effective immediately.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said the following regarding Ichiro's new role:

"We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field. 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 No. 1 priority and Ichiro's No. 1 priority."

Dipoto added: "We really don't want him to change anything that he's doing right now, with the exception that he will not be playing in games. We believe that Ichiro's signing and his assimilation into our team has helped us this season and we want to make sure we continue that."

Ichiro's agent says he isn't retiring yet, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and left open the possibility he could play next season:

Ichiro returned to the Mariners this season after a five-year absence, and he was hitting .205 across 47 plate appearances before this change.

He has spent time with the Mariners, New York Yankees and Miami Marlins during his Hall of Fame-worthy career.

If this is indeed the end of his MLB playing days, he finishes his career with a .311 batting average, totaling 117 home runs, 780 RBI, 1,420 runs scored, 509 stolen bases and 3,089 hits. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he come to MLB before the age of 27.

Taking his Japanese stats into account, Ichiro has more career hits than any player in the history of major professional baseball with 4,367.

The 44-year-old was one of the most decorated players of his generation and was selected to 10 All-Star Games. He also won the 2001 American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards, two batting titles, 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards.

Ichiro was a force atop the lineup for Seattle in his prime, regularly getting on base with his unorthodox, slap-hit approach at the plate while putting himself in scoring position with his excellent speed. He was also a fantastic outfielder and had a rocket for an arm in right field, making him a complete player who led Seattle to the playoffs in 2001 and was a key contributor to the Yankees' postseason berth in 2012.

Ichiro has been an excellent ambassador for MLB, a fun player to watch and one of the most consistent, fundamentally sound players of his generation. Though he's faded in his later years, he'll be remembered as one of the game's greats.

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