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Ichiro Suzuki Will Be in Mariners' Season Opener in Tokyo vs. Athletics

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2019

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 18: Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners at bat in the top of 4th inning during the preseason friendly game between Yomiuri Giants and Seattle Mariners at Tokyo Dome on March 18, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Masterpress/Getty Images

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will get a chance to play in front of his home fans in his team's season opener in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics

"Ichiro is going to start for us in the first games against the A's," manager Scott Servais told the Japan Times (via ESPN.com) on Monday. "He's playing fine in the outfield. Obviously he showed plenty of arm strength tonight on that one throw to third base. He'll start the game and we'll see how it plays out from there.

The Mariners will begin the year with two regular-season games Wednesday and Thursday in the Tokyo Dome. A week later, they will have their home opener against the Boston Red Sox.

Both the Mariners and the Athletics are allowed to have 28 active players on the roster for the first two games, which helps Ichiro get a spot despite being a non-roster invitee.

Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the veteran will receive a $750,000 for making the major league roster.

The 45-year-old has struggled at the plate throughout the spring, hitting just .080 (2-for-25) with zero extra-base hits.

Still, Servais is more than willing to give him a chance in Japan.

"I'm excited for him," the third-year manager said. "It hasn't been a great spring training for him offensively, but if there's anybody who can turn it on for a few days, it's certainly Ichiro."

Suzuki is arguably the biggest star in Japanese baseball history, playing nine professional seasons in his home country before beginning his Hall of Fame-level career in the MLB with the Mariners. He has 3,089 hits in 18 years, earning the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in 2001 as well as 10 All-Star selections.

However, the former Yankee and Marlin has struggled to make an impact as of late, finishing 2018 with a .205 batting average in 15 appearances for Seattle. While he has apparently done enough to play the first two games in Japan, he could become a casualty when the rosters are cut to the normal 25 players on March 28.

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