The feel-good story of MLB's 2018 opening day is a go.
Ichiro Suzuki, 44, will be in the Mariners' opening day lineup Thursday night against the Indians, the team said Wednesday.
The future Hall of Famer, who burst onto the MLB scene in Seattle as AL MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2001, had been bothered by a right calf injury sustained in spring training and there was speculation that he might be on the disabled list on opening day.
— Mariners (@Mariners) March 28, 2018
"When I got hurt, the whole plan was just so I could be ready for opening day,” he said through interpreter Allen Turner (via the Seattle Times). “I feel like I barely snuck in. It was a close one, but I’m glad I was able to get to this point to get ready.”
He'll bat ninth and play left field, manager Scott Servais confirmed Wednesday.
“It was a crazy spring for him, getting in late and having a little setback with the calf injury,” Servais said. “But I think he’s showed us enough in the last couple of days that he can get out there and run around and hopefully help us out a little bit. … Like I said when we brought him in, he’ll hit at the bottom of the lineup and he’s here to help in a number of different ways.”
If so, Ichiro will do so with a noticeable lack of at-bats in the spring: He went 0-for-10 with two walks and five strikeouts in five Cactus League games.
“Spring training is not how many at-bats you get,” he said. “Sometimes you could get 100 at-bats and not be ready. So it’s definitely not how many you get. I’m just want to use the experience I have. Obviously, I want to do well for the team and live up to expectations.”
A 17-year MLB veteran, Suzuki enters the 2018 season with 3,080 hits. But since 2012, when he was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees, he has recorded more than 100 hits only twice in two-plus seasons in New York and the past three with the Marlins.