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Ichiro showcases arm, bat in exhibition

Legend fans 16, goes 3-for-4 in shutout against team of teachers
@mattkellyMLB
December 1, 2019

Not that anyone should be surprised, but Ichiro Suzuki is still finding ways to play baseball -- and that includes pitching. The 46-year-old icon kicked off play with his new Kobe Chiben team on Sunday in Japan, taking to the diamond at Hotto Motto Field Kobe, the stadium where he

Not that anyone should be surprised, but Ichiro Suzuki is still finding ways to play baseball -- and that includes pitching.

The 46-year-old icon kicked off play with his new Kobe Chiben team on Sunday in Japan, taking to the diamond at Hotto Motto Field Kobe, the stadium where he rose to fame as a member of the Orix Blue Wave in the 1990s. It was an exhibition game against local teachers, but Ichiro (wearing a No. 1 uniform instead of his customary No. 51) still showed plenty of the form that made him such a popular player. At the plate, Ichiro went 3-for-4 with a walk. On the mound, he was stifling, striking out 16 batters and walking none in a six-hit shutout. He threw 131 total pitches.

Ichiro’s long-awaited pitching debut at the end of the 2015 MLB season ranks among his most beloved late-career highlights. He retired from the Major Leagues this March after appearing in a pair of games for the Mariners during the Japan Series at the Tokyo Dome.

“I can still make it work,” Ichiro told the Japan Times. “No problems at all regarding either my elbow or shoulder. It was a blast.”

As for Ichiro’s stuff on the mound? Enough to baffle everyday citizens, at the very least.

“Sandlot players aren’t going to hit pitches like that,” said opposing manager Kiyoshi Fujita. “Every member of our team is going to remember meeting the world-famous Ichiro. It really was fun.”

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.