The iconic Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki made his first Major League appearance on the mound on Sunday for the Miami Marlins. The 41-year-old star has appeared in 2,357 games and has collected 2,935 hits since coming stateside.
The Philadelphia Phillies had a commanding 6-2 lead when Ichiro came out to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning. He ended up giving up one run on two doubles in the inning. Not too bad for a player making their Major League debut on the mound.
Ichiro had previously pitched one third of an inning in the 1996-97 Japanese League All-Star game. He is known in the baseball world for his cannon arm, and in fact he was a decent pitcher in high school. It is really no surprise that the outfielder was given a chance to do something most position players dream of. Credit the Marlins for allowing the baseball legend a chance to toe the rubber.
The outfielders fastball reached 87 MPH on the radar gun Sunday. He gave up a lead-off double to Odubel Herrera. Darnell Sweeney also hit a double off of him, but he settled down to get Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr to retire the side only allowing one earned run.
The crafty right-handed pitcher showed a decent slider/curveball as he attempted to keep the hitters off balance. This could very well be the last showing of Ichiro in the Major Leagues. At the age of 41, his days of being an everyday outfielder are long gone. He could, however, be a very valuable addition to a playoff team’s bench.
The sweet left-handed swing of Ichiro and his defensive abilities could transition well into somebody’s bench. There are reports that he might return home to Japan, if not given a Major League opportunity. Ichiro hit .230 with one home run and 21 RBI in 152 games this year for the Marlins. Most of those game appearances were as a pinch hitter as Ichiro had 396 at-bats in the 2015 season. The career .314 hitter is two steals shy of 500 in his career. A certain first ballot Hall of Famer, is this the last we see of this icon? If so it was a fitting end to his career, and something Ichiro will always remember.