Ichiro Suzuki does not have a problem serving as a fourth outfielder. But he had a problem serving as the fifth. According to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, Suzuki is pleased to be playing for the Marlins and is excited to move forward without Joe Girardi as his manager.
Suzuki, 41, will almost certainly help the Marlins in 2015. He is a leader in the clubhouse, he has a notable amount of experience, and he brings a left-handed bat and versatile glove. While Manager Mike Redmond may only use Suzuki once or twice a week, an already productive Marlins outfield significantly improved when Suzuki was signed to a $2 million deal. During his first press conference of the season, Suzuki made it clear he is happy to be with Miami. A new environment should prove to be beneficial too.
Despite the fact that Suzuki had a lot of success in New York, Kernan notes that even though Suzuki would not say it, he has often wondered why he was used or not called upon in varying situations.
"It was a great lesson for me to learn and I was able to go through that. If things happened that you couldn’t control and didn’t like, if you let that affect you and cut things off emotionally and mentally, you can’t do that, you’ve got to keep going.
"That was something I had to overcome.’’
Ichiro has posted 4,122 hits throughout the course of his baseball career, and is 156 shy of 3,000 major league hits. His 3,999 hit came last August in the first game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays, however Girardi opted to only utilize Suzuki as a pinch runner in the second game. According to Kernan, that was not the first time Suzuki was placed in such a position.
There were other moves like the time Austin Romine, batting .138, replaced Ichiro in the order late in a game the Yankees were losing by one run, even though Ichiro was the Yankees’ hottest hitter at the time and had three hits in the game.
There were times Girardi last season used minor league journeymen Zelous Wheeler and Antoan Richardson ahead of Ichiro.
Suzuki will not see much starting time in 2015, although whenever Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, or Christian Yelich need time off, he will receive an opportunity. Suzuki will also be valuable as a left-handed pinch hitter, something the Marlins' bench has had difficulty maintaining in recent seasons. He accepted the Marlins' contract with an understanding of the situation, and appears to be eager to get started. Redmond may not have a ton of playing time to give Suzuki. But he can promise that he will be used the right way in situations that he will have success in.