Ichiro logs his first inning as a pitcher

October 4th, 2015

PHILADELPHIA -- The itch to pitch has been there a long time for Ichiro Suzuki, the iconic 41-year-old outfielder who is pursuing 3,000 Major League hits. But on Sunday, in the Marlins' 7-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Ichiro's bat was not the story.

Ichiro's right arm was. With the Phillies up four in the eighth inning, Miami manager Dan Jennings allowed the 10-time All-Star to accomplish another first -- pitch in a big league game.

No one will confuse the veteran with Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, but Ichiro provided an entertaining inning, allowing one run on two doubles. He didn't strike anyone out or walk a batter, but he did make it through on 18 pitches with 11 strikes.

"I used to pitch in high school," Ichiro said through translator Allen Turner. "I did pitch in an All-Star Game in Japan. But to be on the mound at a Major League Baseball game, you can say one of my dreams came true today. But I'll never ask to do that again."

Ichiro didn't threaten to break any radar readings. His fastball topped at 88 mph, according to MLB.com's Gameday tracking system.

Odubel Herrera doubled and went to third on Cameron Rupp's deep fly ball to center. Darnell Sweeney had an RBI double, and he moved to third on Freddy Galvis' groundout to second. The inning ended when Aaron Altherr lifted a routine fly to left field.

Regardless of the results, the mere fact Ichiro was on the mound had all the Marlins and Phillies paying close attention.

"I kind of knew it might happen today," Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich said. "I was looking for it the whole game. When he finally ran out there, it was pretty cool. It was cool to see both teams at the top step, watching, taking it in. Now, you can say you watched Ichiro pitch in person."

In his remarkable career, Ichiro has appeared in 2,357 MLB games. He has 2,935 big league hits, 65 shy of 3,000. But he's always wanted to pitch.

Every day when he warms up, playing catch, he simulates a windup.

For more than a month, the Marlins considered finding a spot for Ichiro to get on the mound. Down four in the eighth inning was perfect.

"We talked about the situation, it had to be right," Jennings said. "His last at-bat, he's on deck. He looks at me, and says, 'You thinking about it?' I was, 'Oh yeah, it's done. You've got it.' He's earned that."

Experiencing throwing the ball at 60-feet, six-inches from a batter, Ichiro now has a new appreciation for pitchers.

"I think a lot of position players, sometimes say stuff about pitchers, 'Why or you doing this or that?'" Ichiro said. "I'll never say a bad thing about a pitcher again."