MIAMI -- Saturday started with concern when left fielder Christian Yelich was scratched due to back spasms. But the Marlins received a lift from 42-year-old veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who not only stepped in, but delivered four hits and a walk in a 3-2 win over the Nationals at Marlins
MIAMI -- Saturday started with concern when left fielder Christian Yelich was scratched due to back spasms. But the Marlins received a lift from 42-year-old veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who not only stepped in, but delivered four hits and a walk in a 3-2 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.
At 42, Ichiro is the oldest player to go 4-for-4 or better since 45-year-old player/manager Pete Rose went 5-for-5 for the Reds on Aug. 11, 1986.
There was plenty of relief postgame as manager Don Mattingly said Yelich may only need a couple days' rest. If that's the case, Ichiro is ready to handle left.
"[Ichiro] always loves early notice," Mattingly said. "I'm thinking after that, late notice may be the way to go. Surprise him on game day. It's just fun to watch him play. He's such a good guy for our club. It's really amazing."
The prognosis also sounds better for Yelich.
"He said before the game he was feeling better," Mattingly said. "Hopefully, he caught it quickly and it ends up being a day or two days, something like that. Nothing extended."
Yelich ranks among the National League leaders in several significant categories.
Ichiro is now at 2,954 career hits, 46 shy of 3,000. On MLB's all-time list, he is one hit shy of matching Willie Keeler for 32nd place.
"It was so nice, just him getting hits," Mattingly said. "It was kind of amazing watching him through the course of the night."
Yelich didn't take batting practice on the field pregame, and Ichiro warmed up in left field.
Prior to going on the field, Yelich experienced discomfort swinging in the cages.
"It happened in his last swing in the batting cage," Mattingly said. "He does a routine before he goes to BP. He felt a little something. Went out there, started to stretch, and was feeling it. Came right in, which was a good thing."
Yelich's slash line is .320/.420/.524 with five homers and 20 RBIs. The left-handed-hitting 24-year-old also has drawn 24 walks.
In the past few seasons, Yelich has spent time on the disabled list with lower back issues. He was on the DL from April 24-May 8, 2015, and started a stint on June 16, 2014.
Yelich entered Saturday ranked 12th in the NL in batting average and seventh in on-base percentage.
Yelich had been hitting third in the lineup. After he was scratched, Derek Dietrich was moved from the leadoff spot to third, with Ichiro batting first.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.