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September 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Ichiro mania grips Japan, Mike Sweeney too

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No, this isn’t a sign Mike Sweeney is headed to the Japanese League next season. Sweeney was on the field for pre-game stretching and saw some fans down the right field line, one of them wearing a Team Japan jersey with Ichiro’s name on it. So, he did what Sweeney would do. Borrowed the jersey and came running over to lead the stretching routine.
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Kind of what Ichiro would look like after a long-term conditioning program with an NFL team. Sweeney kept working out in the jersey for several minutes. Poor old Ichiro, fresh off another tickle attack by Ken Griffey Jr. — who is in tonight’s lineup — didn’t quite know what to make of the whole thing.
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Ichiro is generating quite the news crush in Japan right now, where a nation is enthralled by the fact he’s five hits away from becoming the first player to ever have nine consecutive 200-hit seasons. They’ve sent the entire Japanese press corps to Angel Stadium to cover it. I even have my very own television crew from Fuji TV following me around. They filmed me shooting these photos, then asked me how I thought Ichiro looked at BP. “Thinner than Sweeney,” was my reply.
Later, they’ll be filming as I write the game story. They also have a crew in Seattle at the Times filming the editors waiting breathlessly for my prose to arrive. My conclusion? Japanese media outlets have far more money to spend than American ones do.
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Kusso! It is only Jason Vargas!”

Anyhow, we’ll try to keep Fuji TV entertained. The crew is based in Los Angeles, but the poor female reporter only arrived here from Japan today. Probably a little jet-lagged. Speaking of under-the-weather, Jack Wilson has been sent back to the team hotel. He came down with flu-like symtoms in the clubhouse and was resting on a training table. The team decided he was too big an illness risk to the rest of the players and told him to go rest back in his room.
So, he’s out and Josh Wilson is in at shortstop.
Sean White is having his MRI at the moment. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu wanted to clarify that White is not out for the season — at least not yet. Wakamatsu said he’d seen speculation written that White is done for the year. Not sure where that came from. But we’ll wait for the results instead of guessing since that’s not what we do here.
By the way, Brandon Morrow will now start for Class AAA Tacoma in that playoff game and Luke French will take on the Rangers. Nah, just kidding! But Morrow isn’t here yet, so you never know.
Anyhow, Wakamatsu said the Morrow move is a question of depth. The Mariners need to stabilize the bullpen and would rather have him starting and French in long relief. So, that’s what is happening.
I spoke to Chris Jakubauskas, who had a recurrence of that back-of-the-shoulder stiffness that felled him in Detroit a few weeks back.
“It’s just a little tight right now,” Jakubauskas said. “It’s more of a safety precaution we’re taking so I don’t do something that damages it structurally.”
Jakubauskas said it’s feeling more comfortable each day he doesn’t pitch. And the team plans to keep him out of game action at least a few more days.



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