Mitch Storey, the Mariners’ team doctor, said that Ichiro was having stomach problems prior to the World Baseball Classic.
“According to ichiro, the symptoms probably started even right before the World Baseball Classic,” Storey said. “So he had been fighting these symptoms for three or four weeks. He’d feel good one day and bad the next.
“I don’t think he knew something was really wrong until he got here to spring training and started feeling tired and light-headed. He had an upset stomach several times during the WBC, but he took some stomach medicine and felt better. He didn’t put it all together; he was just treating symptoms and feeling better. It wasn’t until he got wiped out in spring training and got so fatigued the issue came to a head.”
Storey said that ulcers can be caused by a variety of factors.
“It can be caused by certain bacteria, which you can be tested for,” he said. “It can be caused by stress, too much acid production. Taking medications like anti-inflammatories can pre-dispose people to it.
“The only treatment, really, is to try to eliminate some of the offending problems that are causing it. There are certain medications.”
Though there apparently is a school of thought that stress isn’t a cause of ulcers, Storey said, “Stress causes over-acid production, and excess acid production leads to ulcer, given the right environment.”
In fact, Storey believes the stress of the WBC may well have been a major factor with Ichiro.
“Yeah, I would suspect that was one of the primary causes, all that stress,” he said. “That’s partly what started the whole process, I’d suspect.”
The treatment, he said, is basically the same regardless of the cause — medication to decrease acid production, “and they usually heal over a period of three to four weeks.”
Storey expects Ichiro to be ready to play when he is eligible to come off the DL on April 15.
“I’m anticipating he will,” he said.
Ichiro’s routine in the upcoming days is “a real graduated program with aerobic activity, some throwing and some batting. We’re trying to let him rest up, because he’s been fatigued. We don’t want to push him. We’re hoping before he leaves Arizona he might play three or four innings, just to see how he feels. It’s going to depend on how the next several days go.”
Initially, Dr. Storey said, “We thought he was just run down and had the flu or something like that. Then, he got a lot weaker, and some further investigating and testing showed he had this ulcer. That led to the fatigue.”
Doctors still don’t know what caused Ichiro’s ulcer. They used a fiber optic camera in through his stomach to diagnose the ulcer, “and at the same time took brushings and biopsies to culture for bacteria. The results are pending. By Monday, we should have an answer. If he does have the bacteria, a cocktail of antibiotics should clear up the bacteria in about two weeks.”
Dexter Fowler CF
Ryan Spilborghs LF
Todd Helton 1B
Garrett Atkins 3B
Brad Hawpe RF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Chris Iannetta C
Jeff Baker DH
Clint Barmes 2B
Franklin Morales P
Endy Chavez LF
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Russell Branyan 1B
Mike Sweeney DH
Rob Johnson C
Wladimir Balentien RF
Ronny Cedeno 2B
Chris Woodward SS
Jarrod Washburn P
(Sorry, I have to tie all this Ichiro stuff together into one big story for tomorrow’s paper, so I don’t think I’ll be able to do a game thread tonight. But I’ll see how I’m progressing).