Another day, another rehabilitation outing at DH for Ichiro down in Arizona, where he’s recovering from that bleeding ulcer. That makes it 12-for-20 in two days for Ichiro, so he’s getting his ABs in. The plan is for him to play the field tomorrow, then again on Sunday and then bring him up to Safeco Field for a Monday workout the team is holding at noon.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he hasn’t spoken to Ichiro directly since he started playing again.
“We’ve texted back and forth, we seem to be good at that,” he said, adding that the most recent one was after Tuesday’s game in Minneapolis. “He congratulated me for Opening Night and then wished us luck the next two nights.”
Wakamatsu is making a homecoming of sorts here tonight. He grew up in the Bay Area and played high school football and baseball games here at this park. Last season, he was a bench coach with the A’s.
“It brings back a lot of memories, from football to baseball,” he said. “We played basketball over at the Coliseum. To stand here is pretty emotional. To think back of when I stood here before and how far…the opportunities I’ve been given.”
Did he win those high school games?
“In football, we were the the last undefeated football team in HAAL, which was our division,” he said. “We went undefeated on this field. In baseball, we wound up losing (the championship).”
“I was a blocking forward,” he said. “I couldn’t jump or shoot, but I was tough. I knew early on that high school was going to be the extent of that.”
By the way, I spoke to some of those players from that all-Venezuelan outfield the Mariners put out there on Wednesday — the first time in the majors that’s ever happened.
Endy Chavez, who played right field that day, told me his favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey Jr. He had a favorite Venezuelan player, an outfielder, but “I don’t think he ever played in the big leagues.”
That just shows you how much baseball has changed in Venezuela. Back when Chavez, now 31, was growing up, there just weren’t all that many Venezuelan big leaguers to pick a boyhood idol from. Not the case any more. If you count Cesar Jimenez, up here on the DL, the Mariners now have eight Venezuelans just on their squad alone.
“It’s grown a lot,” Chavez said, adding he’d never dreamed of seeing an all-Venezuelan outfield when he was younger. “Now, we’ve got a lot more players. It’s nice to be a part of something like that. To make history.”
Ronny Cedeno, who made the whole thing possible by playing in left field for a day, says his favorite player was Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel, the first all-star from Venezuela. Not that Cedeno ever got to see him play. He died a few years back at age 77, a hero to all Venezuelans. Cedeno told me he didn’t really have a favorite ballplayer growing up. That could change for youngsters in his homeland now that all-Venezuelan outfields have become a reality.
“I’m proud to have been a part of it,” he said. “I have a good time out there with Endy (Chavez) and Franklin (Gutierrez)..”
A look below at Russell Branyan, tonight’s first baseman.
April 10, 2009 at 6:19 PM