The Mariners are being very cautious with Ichiro, which means that it’s unlikely he’ll play Wednesday, manager Don Wakamatsu said. Wakamatsu had originally said he thought tomorrow was a likely day for Ichiro’s return.
Ichiro is missing his second game tonight with a tight left calf. He took some swings in the cage today, and worked out, but he still hasn’t done any serious running. He might take batting practice on Wednesday.
“I just talked to him in the training room,” Wakamatsu said. “He feels better today. It’s just going to be day to day. We talked about tomorrow. I don’t think that’s going to be a reality. But he does feel better and he’s improving. I don’t have a timetable yet. The biggest thing we can do is get him out here taking BP and running as we go forward. I guess we’ll have a better idea when that happens. I would not count on tomorrow.”
Ichiro is closing in on some significant milestones, in addition to chasing Joe Mauer in pursuit of his third batting title. He has 184 hits, 16 away from his ninth consecutive 200-hit season. No player in history has done that. Ichiro shares the record of eight conseuctive 200-hit seasons with Willie Keeler (1894-1901). Ichiro is also 11 hits shy of 2,000 for his MLB career. He is hitting .359, 15 points behind Mauer’s .374.
“I think we all want to accomplish the same thing, or have him accomplish that goal,” Wakamatsu said. “That’s what we keep talking about. He’s going to want to get out there as soon as possible, but we want to keep him on the field once we get him active.”
Having Ichiro play designated hitter would be counter-productive, Wakamatsu said.
“The thing with the calf is you want to keep him moving,” he said. “DHing him would almost be harder for him. We want to make sure he’s able to play the field.”
Wakamatsu noted how odd it is to make out his lineup without including Ichiro.
“I sit there, starting with an ‘I,’ then I go blank for awhile,” he said. “With our lineup, so many changes, you write him, then you sit there. it’s tough. You watch him play day in and day out, you start to understand how special he really is. It’s really amazing to me he doesn’t have more injuries than he does.”
Adrian Beltre worked out again and is improving from his severely contused right testicle, but Wakamatsu seemed skeptical he’d be ready to return Friday when eligible to come off the DL.
“He seems to be getting better every day,” he said.
Chris Jakubauskas threw a bullpen session and should be ready to pitch for Tacoma either Thursday or Friday.