Ichiro’s home project: a pitching mound

February 25th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- prides himself on his preparation, and no player or coach disputes that he might be the most in-shape member of the Mariners at any given time -- even including players.

While gearing up over the winter for one of his many coaching duties, batting practice, the former outfielder had a mound built in a yard outside his home in Japan. Ichiro thew off that mound to keep his arm in shape, and, sure enough, he was firing away during the Mariners’ first full-squad workout on Tuesday.

"Ichiro is definitely in better shape than any other coach we have here. I will say that I'll go on record saying that," Seattle manager Scott Servais said on Wednesday.

Ichiro, 47, needed a few warmup tosses to hone his location. He missed a few to one of his first batters, , which prompted the uber confident and humorous prospect to ask the eventual Hall of Famer, “You scared of me?”

Ichiro has long been one of the Mariners’ go-to BP arms for his ability to hurl tight, sharp pitches over the plate, with decent velocity if needed. Just last spring, he drew attention when a video surfaced of him throwing at full velocity in windup to Franklin Gutierrez, a big leaguer of 12 years, who responded “wow” while on the catching end.

Ichiro wasn’t brought up as a pitcher during his nine seasons in Japan, where it’s encouraged to throw far more often than in the U.S., but he did pitch in high school and in an All-Star Game in his homeland. He also reached a Major League mound on the final day of the 2015 season when playing for the Marlins, topping out at 88 mph over an 18-pitch outing in the eighth inning of a 7-2 loss to the Phillies.