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Inbox: What impact will Ichiro have in Seattle?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers questions from Mariners fans
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

What impact do you think Ichiro Suzuki will have right away? And how do you think he'll do not playing every day when more people are healthy?
-- Tyler H., Phoenix

I don't expect Ichiro to light the world on fire at age 44. He doesn't run like he used to and that makes it harder to rack up the infield hits or have a big impact as a basestealer. But it is evident in watching him in camp these past two weeks, he still has the excellent hand-eye coordination and will make contact and get on base at a fair rate.

What impact do you think Ichiro Suzuki will have right away? And how do you think he'll do not playing every day when more people are healthy?
-- Tyler H., Phoenix

I don't expect Ichiro to light the world on fire at age 44. He doesn't run like he used to and that makes it harder to rack up the infield hits or have a big impact as a basestealer. But it is evident in watching him in camp these past two weeks, he still has the excellent hand-eye coordination and will make contact and get on base at a fair rate.

Once Ben Gamel returns, it'll be interesting to see how Ichiro is used. Much will depend on how he performs in that first month or so until Gamel's oblique muscle heals. If Ichiro does wind up in a part-time role, he'll be fine with that. He only started 23 games for Miami last year and was primarily a pinch-hitter.

Clearly, Ichiro just wants to keep playing however long possible in whatever role is available, and it's been nice to see how much fun he's having just being back with the Mariners this spring. He's much looser and more accessible than in his younger years, and it's apparent he appreciates this opportunity to come full circle.

Who are your picks to be the biggest surprises this year?
-- Sue A., Shoreline, Wash.

Before camp started, I said Marco Gonzales would surprise people this year, and he's certainly done so already with a very good Spring Training. He and Felix Hernandez are huge keys to this season for Seattle. I think Mike Zunino is poised for a really strong year at catcher, and Dan Altavilla could wind up being much more prominent than expected in the bullpen as he develops.

Video: LAA@SEA: Gonzales stifles Halos over 5 2/3 scoreless

Is Charlie Furbush attempting to make a comeback after missing the past two seasons with shoulder issues?
-- Russ G., Rye, N.Y.

Lots of people keep asking about the popular former Mariners reliever, so I checked with the man himself. Turns out he's still living in Seattle and just now getting ready to start throwing again after needing a second rotator cuff surgery last August, about a year after an initial rotator cuff procedure didn't work out. Rotator cuff problems are the toughest for pitchers, but Furbush says he's feeling great and is hoping to get a shot with somebody next spring at age 32.

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With Andrew Romine hurt and Taylor Motter and Gordon Beckham playing well, who do you see winning the utility role for the Mariners?
-- Matt W., Yakima, Wash.

Romine's shoulder injury was minor and he's expected back as early as Wednesday, so I suspect he's still the favorite to win the job being that he was brought in for his veteran experience and ability to play anywhere. But both Motter and Beckham also have played well this spring, so there is a decision to make.

If Romine can't go, Motter's outfield experience might give him an edge, but he has Minor League options. Beckham might be the choice if they specifically need a second or third baseman, but Robinson Cano is also expected back this week. Beckham is on a Minor League deal and would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but they have three open spots there, so that is a possibility.

Video: CWS@SEA: Romine lines a two-run single to center

What happens between Daniel Vogelbach and Ryon Healy with who gets into the lineup the majority of the time at first base?
-- Ryan P., Rochester, N.Y.

Vogelbach has been Seattle's best hitter all spring, but Healy is the guy they acquired to handle the first-base job on a regular basis and will get most of the playing time if he's fully healthy by Opening Day. There likely is an extra spot for Vogelbach on the 25-man roster to open the year since they'll only need four starting pitchers initially due to numerous early off-days, but that still means a tough call will need to be made 10 days into the year when that fifth starter is needed.

These questions often solve themselves due to injury or performance, and I would suspect Vogelbach will get a chance to show what he can do at some point either at first base or DH this year, but Healy will be targeted for much of the playing time early. Spring Training success doesn't guarantee regular-season success, but Vogelbach certainly has played well enough to convince the organization he could help, and that depth is welcome and needed.

Video: LAA@SEA: Healy drills an RBI double in the 3rd

With three spots open on the 40-man, what do you think the Mariners are up to?
-- David S., Des Moines, Wash.

I expect one spot will go to Casey Lawrence, who has made a strong case for the eighth and final bullpen spot to open the season as a long reliever. He's a non-roster invitee on a Minor League deal, and would need to be added to the 40-man if he makes the club.

That leaves two more openings, and you can be sure that general manager Jerry Dipoto and his staff are combing the waiver wire and looking at players who are out of Minor League options on other clubs who might come available at the last minute. That's how Seattle picked up Nick Vincent two years ago, and it's good to have that roster flexibility when many players come available.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki