Update 2 p.m.: I’ve now been informed that Ichiro told a Mariners official that he has not talked to anyone about any manager, and would not. Ichiro told the official that would be disrespecteful to his teammates and his manager.
A very interesting tweet from Peter Gammons was sent about 9:30 this morning, and it’s getting a lot of attention. Here’s what Gammons, now with MLB.com after a long stint with ESPN, wrote:
One Mariners person says Ichiro has talked to ownership about hiring Bobby Valentine, Suzuki’s preference
Gammons, of course, is a legendary baseball reporter and probably the most well-connected person in the business. Not sure exactly what a “Mariners person” is, but I’ve always trusted Gammons sources. He’s right far more often than he’s wrong — that’s why he was presented the Spink Award at the Hall of Fame a few years ago.
That said, I just checked with a Mariners official (a “Mariners person”, if you will), who said that “to the best of our knowledge, there’s no truth to it.”
The official said he had talked to Howard Lincoln, the Mariners’ chairman and CEO, who said there was “no basis” to the report.
Of course, the obvious question is whether the “ownership” to which Gammons referred is Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Nintendo chairman and the top person in the Mariners’ hierarchy.
If Ichiro indeed went straight to Yamauchi in Japan and lobbied for Valentine — and it’s at least conceivable he did that without informing anyone else in the Mariners organization — it’s a hugely significant development. It’s no secret that Yamauchi has a special relationship with Ichiro, and his endorsement would be powerful. Lincoln, however, said he had no knowledge of any conversation between Ichiro and Yamauchi regarding Valentine, according to the spokesman.