Now batting for the New York Yankees, number 31, Ichiro Suzuki..
This might take some getting used to, especially for Seattle Mariners fans. Just hours after the 10-time All-Star was traded by the team hailing from the Pacific Northwest to the one situated on River Avenue, Ichiro stepped to the plate at Safeco Field for the first ever time in the TOP of any inning.
The Yankees acquired the longtime Seattle stalwart shortly before the two teams began a three-game series at the ballpark that counts the "Ichiroll" among its concession items. Yankees manager Joe Girardi inserted the outfielder in the eighth slot in the Yankees' batting order, behind Andruw Jones. When the 38-year-old walked to the plate in road gray in the top of third, M's fans stood up and cheered for Ichiro for approximately 20 seconds until the star outfielder acknowledged them with a couple of bows. The Mariners' announcer noted that Kevin Millwood stepped off the mound to let his former teammate enjoy his moment.
Showing perhaps that he still has more to offer than his anemic 2012 numbers suggest, Ichiro leaned in and knocked an 0-1 pitch right back up the middle for a single. Then he stole second.
Ever since becoming the second player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year, Ichiro excelled in 11+ seasons in Seattle after coming over from Japan. With his distinctive stance and swing at the plate and grace in the field, Ichiro won 10 straight Gold Gloves and recorded 200 hits for 10 straight years to begin the MLB portion of his career.
Before Monday night's game, Ichiro talked about how excited he was to be joining the Yankees.
"I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins," he said through an interpreter. "It's hard to contain my excitement for that reason."
Thanks to a 4-1 win on Monday, Ichiro's new team moved yet another win clear of his old in the American League standings.