Come on. Did you think it would be anybody else? Really? Yes, the legend of both MLB and the NPB is the number 1 player to watch this series. Do we really have to explain why? In what will very likely be his final two games in an MLB uniform, Ichiro is returning home for a fitting send-off in front of the country that loves him so. At least, we think.
Is it possible the Mariners carry Ichiro on the 25 man roster when the team heads back to Seattle to face the Red Sox? Yes. After all, the Japanese fans got their chance to say thank you and goodbye to their icon. So wouldn’t it make sense for Seattle to get the same chance?
As somebody who was as outspoken as anybody against signing Ichiro last off-season, I still have mixed feelings about this whole charade, but at least the M’s aren’t trying to sell us on a playoff run with Ichiro on the roster for more than a handful of games.
This spring, Ichiro has looked old. He’s just 2-31 at the plate, including an 0-6 stint in Japan. But we know Ichiro will get the Opening Day start, as confirmed by Scott Servais earlier today. The bat speed is crippled, but fans will cling to the hope that he has one little bit of magic left in him, and he flashed just a spark of it earlier this morning:
Seattle loves Ichiro. Japan love Ichiro. Ichiro loves baseball. This saga will be fascinating to play out, all while millions of fans across the globe will watch to see what, if any magic, Ichiro has in his bat and glove.
And for those reasons, Ichiro Suzuki is the number 1 player to watch this week.