HOUSTON -- Ichiro Suzuki's official title with the Mariners is special assistant to the chairman, but on Tuesday, he added another job to his extensive resume with this team: batting-practice pitcher.Ichiro, who is traveling with the Mariners during their trek through Houston and Tampa Bay, threw early BP to several
HOUSTON -- Ichiro Suzuki's official title with the Mariners is special assistant to the chairman, but on Tuesday, he added another job to his extensive resume with this team: batting-practice pitcher.
Ichiro, who is traveling with the Mariners during their trek through Houston and Tampa Bay, threw early BP to several Mariners position players on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, including catcher Mike Zunino and outfielders Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel.
"I think I could have done better," Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. "It was the first time throwing off the ramp. I hadn't done that before. It was the first time throwing outside. [Before this], it's all been in the cage, throwing inside. I think I can do better."
Prior to departing Seattle for Houston, manager Scott Servais had hinted that Ichiro may make a cameo appearance as a BP thrower during this trip after floating the idea by the 10-time All-Star.
"He said, 'I'll have a little fun with this,'" Servais said.
Said Ichiro: "I have been just kind of throwing on my own, just kind of doing it on my own without anyone seeing me, I thought. I didn't want anyone to know about it. I was just throwing, and somebody must have told [the] skip, and it kind of came to this point."
Unsurprisingly, Ichiro, whose extensive game preparation was the stuff of legends during his 18-year career, took meticulous steps to make sure he was prepared for the new assignment.
"Little did I know he'd be throwing 200 balls a day in the batting cage during the game to get ready for this," Servais said. "He was ready. He can throw for an hour if we asked him to."
Ichiro has always had an affinity for pitching, and he made one appearance at the position for the Marlins, on Oct. 4, 2015, vs. the Phillies. In that respect, throwing early BP was a welcome addition to his list of responsibilities.
"When you're a pitcher, you don't want the guys to get hits off you," Ichiro said. "Today was the first time I threw it in, hoping they would hit it. It was definitely a different feeling."
This may not be a one-time event, either. As long as the hitters are amenable, Ichiro would like to continue.
"If guys like hitting off me, I would throw every day," Ichiro said.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.