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June 10, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Ichiro says he’s “being tested” and this is something “I need to overcome”

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Ichiro was dressing in the clubhouse after the game and agreed to speak about the day off he got today.
He actually spoke for close to 10 minutes and covered a wide variety of questions related to his slump.
I asked him how this slump compares to other challenges he’s faced — and overcome — throughout his career.
“Every challenge is big and every accomplishment I overcame was big,” Ichiro said, through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “This is another one. But I feel this time, I’m being tested. This is something that I need to overcome. And not just as a baseball player…it’s about overcoming that as a human being.”
Later, I asked him about whether attaining better results will require him to change his hitting style from what’s gotten him to the 200-hit mark for 10 seasons. Or, whether it’s a matter of refining his current style so that he gets better results with it.
He replied that there are many answers to the question and that hitting is a complex subject.
But he doesn’t sound like he wants to abandon his current style for a radical overhaul. At least not yet.
Here’s the money quote: “It’s all about mentality,” he said. “That’s why you want to keep the same mental approach to your game and not let it sway. Because then, you’ll have bigger issues.”
He’s talking more about the mental side of hitting. Not letting what happens one day impact what he’s going to do the next. In other words, he’ll try to stay as mentally strong after an 0-for-4 game as he would a 4-for-4 game.
That’s not the same as changing a hitting style. I’m sure he’s doing some tinkering here and there, like all hitters do. But a whole lot of hitting is mental. If he doesn’t want his mental focus and overall stability to waver, I can’t see him making any radical changes to his swing and style in-season. Perhaps in the off-season. But not now. That’s my take, anyway.

Earlier on, I asked him whether he was pleased to get a day off in the middle of all this. Ichiro said he was somewhat surprised that Eric Wedge didn’t try to stick him in a tight ballgame late.
“When you talk about our skipper, he’s very firm,” Ichiro said. “His feelings will never change. And more than my will, I think I felt his will stronger than ever.
“Because in (Friday’s) situation, it was a tight ballgame and I thought I would be in there. But after saying I would get a day off, he completely gave me a day off.”
And that’s something Ichiro hasn’t had very often.
“When you look back, we had managers who said ‘OK, you’re having a day off,”’ he said. “But then at the end of the day, you’d be playing in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Now, I know how he truly feels, so from here on, when he truly gives me a day off, I’ll just sit on the bench all day long.”
Yes, he was joking about that last part. He takes preparation very seriously, as you all know.
Interpreter Suzuki used the word “stable” in translating what Ichiro said about Wedge, but I changed it to “firm” because I’m pretty sure he meant “of firm mind.”
Anyhow, someone else asked whether Ichiro was feeling better at the plate after that game in Chicago on Wednesday where he hit into some hard outs and worked the counts better. Ichiro said it didn’t matter how he feels. That in the end, all that matters is putting up results.
So, there you have it. Ichiro was pretty serious and gave a lot of thoughtful answers with no wisecracks, other than the part about sitting back and doing nothing his next off-day. We’ll see how he does from here. He’ll be back in there tomorrow.
Where will Chone Figgins play? I asked Wedge that pre-game and after the game.
Wedge didn’t want to answer that tonight. So, we’ll see what the lineup looks like tomorrow.
Great game for the bullpen tonight. You can read all of their quotes and some stuff from Carlos Peguero in my game report in the paper.
But one play that wasn’t talked about tonight was that great glove stab by Brendan Ryan in the first inning to start a double play. If Ryan doesn’t get to that ball, you’ve got two on and none out against Erik Bedard and who knows what happens from there.
Here’s what Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters afterwards.
That probably was the biggest play of the game,” Leyland said. “Ryan just made a hell of a pick.”
Yes he did. Those are the little plays that often get lost in the shuffle but can change games entirely. The Mariners made the plays tonight. Wedge said afterwards that it was the type of game where any one play could decide it.
That Ryan play was one of them. The bullpen limited the Tigers in the plays they could make after the fifth.
Truly a team win tonight.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


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