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August 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Ichiro: Loudest cheers of his career after 1st Yankee homer

Mariners (50-57)
13 Dustin Ackley 2B
33 Casper Wells CF
15 Kyle Seager 3B
63 Jesus Montero DH
20 Mike Carp 1B
30 Miguel Olivo C
10 Eric Thames RF
12 Trayvon Robinson LF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
25 Kevin Millwood RHP
(Eric Wedge said Michael Saunders his some leg stiffness — nothing serious. He wanted to give him another day off to rest, but he should be back in tomorrow. In the meantime, the Mariners start an outfield in which all three players have had stints in the minor leagues this year).
The Seattle media had a chance to talk to Ichiro before Yankees batting practice today, and we found him relaxed and in a good mood. The first thing he did was gesture and say, “See, just one locker.” Ichiro had two in Seattle, as many veterans do, but he had correctly predicted he would have just one in NY. He noted, however, that there is a second locker in another area of the clubhouse.
Ichiro said, through interpreter Allen Turner, it’s been “a pretty easy adjustment. Baseball aspects, you just focus on the game, so you can adjust naturally, because you’re on a team that’s in contention, and you just do what you do as a baseball player. Obviously, there are other things that come along with it, but the baseball aspects have been easy to adjust.”

Ichiro, who is playing left field tonight for the third time since he joined the Yankees, has a hit in all nine games he’s played with the Yankees. But just one hit in each, which leaves his average with New York at .250 (9-for-36). He has yet to walk, putting his on-base percentage at .270 (he’s been hit twice — once by Felix Hernandez, of course). His OPS is .631, compared to .642 with the Mariners before the trade (to go with his .261 average with the Mariners).
So he hasn’t exactly heated up, but Ichiro did have one great moment on July 30, when he connected for his first Yankees homer in the seventh inning off Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez. It was also the 100th homer of his MLB career, and fans at Yankee Stadium gave him a tremendous reception.
“I don’t know if it was because it was the first home run as a Yankee, or because it was my 100th home run, but I don’t think I’ve ever received that kind of ovation from the fans, with that many and that loud,” he said. “Maybe it was the first time ever in my career I received something that big.
“I could hear my name being chanted. I felt maybe I should go out of the dugout, but we were losing at the time. It was awkward – I didn’t know if I should or shouldn’t. I ended up not going out there, but it was definitely a big ovation.”
Just as an aside, I remember some pretty loud ovations in Seattle, such as when he got his 258th hit to surpass George Sisler’s single-season record, and when he hit a walkoff homer against Mariano Rivera, not to mention throughout the magical 2001 season.
I asked Ichiro if he’s followed the Mariners’ hot streak since he left. They take a seven-game winning streak into tonight’s game.
“I’ve been so concentrating on what I’m doing I haven’t really followed,” he said. “I’ve heard they’re doing well, but I don’t know how they’ve won. If there was 30 hours in one day, I could check on that kind of stuff. Right now, I’m just concentrating on what I need to do.”
On playing for the Yankees, he said, “Every day, I’m able to feel the main goal of this team, which is to win. As a baseball player who wants to do the best and compete, it really makes me happy to be part of that, and to contribute to that common goal, which is to win.”
Asked his reaction to playing Seattle again so soon, he said, “Probably the emotions I went through the first three games I wore the Yankee uniform, I don’t think anything will be bigger than that. Obviously, playing this series is a little different than playing other teams at this stage, but it’s not going to be quite like it was in Seattle.”
And his reaction to wearing Yankee pinstripes: “There’s practically everything in this clubhouse, but there’s not a mirror long enough I can see my whole body. I haven’t really gotten to see what I look like.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero


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