CINCINNATI -- Former Marlin Ichiro Suzuki is transitioning from player to special assistant with the Mariners in his age-44 season, and while he hasn't officially announced his retirement, many of his old Marlins teammates reflected fondly on their time with him.Ichiro spent 2015-17 in Miami, where he largely played a
CINCINNATI -- Former Marlin Ichiro Suzuki is transitioning from player to special assistant with the Mariners in his age-44 season, and while he hasn't officially announced his retirement, many of his old Marlins teammates reflected fondly on their time with him.
Ichiro spent 2015-17 in Miami, where he largely played a bench role, but impacted the team in many ways. He picked up his 3,000th career hit in 2016 and was a key veteran for a very young club.
"I thought he brought a ton of leadership to our guys," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "His work ethic and the way he went about his business was off the charts. And for a young team with guys that were just getting to the big leagues when he came to Miami, I thought [he was] a great example for our players. And he was productive. It's not like he wasn't doing [well]. He was doing his thing for us. For the two years that I had him, he was a really good player for us."
Ichiro quickly became a key figure for young players to look up to. His impact is not lost on the many players who are still around from the 2015-17 teams.
"Ichi's always [been] professional in everything he did, not just baseball, but in life, too. But I don't know if he's actually done. That's still to be determined. I know he wants to keep playing baseball."
"Professionalism, preparation, respect, consistency and his routine. I think the most impressive thing is preparing, how well he prepared before the games and how well he does the same thing over and over every day. It's really hard to do in baseball, and he's committing himself to do everything [pregame] to get ready to play the game. I think that's really the most impressive thing about him. "
"My first big league Spring Training, my locker was right next to his. I didn't even feel like he had any reason to talk to me, but he treated me just like everyone else, and he respected me. I tried to show the most respect to him. Just being that guy that growing up, I think, everyone was imitating his swing at some point in the backyard. Everyone obviously wanted to have a career like him, so I was definitely star struck just being able to say I was in the same locker room as him at one point."
"It was pretty awesome being in the same locker room with Ichi. And then not just that, I started to know him as a person, other than as a player. It was unbelievable because of the kind of [person] he is. He's an even better person than a player, and he's a pretty good player. What he can do with his teammates when he [is off the field] is [amazing]. I'm pretty happy that I had the opportunity to play three years of my career with him. I remember the last time, last year, when I knew that he wasn't coming back here, I called him and said, 'Ichi, thank you for everything that you made me experience just because of you.'"
** Ben Weinrib ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.