Ichiro Suzuki talks about his 3,000th MLB hit (First of two parts)
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly, like just about everyone else in the baseball world, was glued to the television on Thursday morning as Ichiro Suzuki took his last MLB at-bat.
Facing a 1-2 count in the top of the eighth inning as the Seattle Mariners played the Oakland Athletics in a two-game series in Tokyo, Ichiro hit a slow roller to shortstop Marcus Semien and barely missed legging out an infield single.
“I was hoping he would beat that out,” Mattingly said in Jupiter before the Marlins traveled to Port St. Lucie to play the New York Mets in a Grapefruit League game.
And just like that, Ichiro’s prolific MLB career, one that spanned 18 seasons and two games and saw him rack up 10 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Glove Awards, an MVP and Rookie of the Year honor and 3,089 hits, came to an emotional end in his home country while playing for the Seattle Mariners team he started his MLB journey with in 2001.
Mattingly, who finished playing in 1995 and began coaching in 2004, watched most of Ichiro’s career from afar and always admired what he brought to the game.
“I got to see probably, close to the beginning. I was coaching in New York seeing him in Seattle,” Mattingly said. “Just watching what kind of player he was, [I was] kind of interested in Ich because he’s a different style. The way he hits is different. Just his speed and his defense and everything about him was a little different. He was a fun guy to follow.”
Following Ichiro’s career from a distance turned into watching him up close for two years when Mattingly took over as the Marlins’ manager before the 2016 season. Suzuki had already been in Miami for a year by that time, but Mattingly experienced history with Ichiro on his side.
On Aug. 7, 2016, Ichiro ripped a triple off the right-field wall at Coors Field against Colorado Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin for his 3,000th MLB hit.
“To have him a little later on in his career was really nice,” Mattingly said. “He’s a guy that’s always there, that’s always ready. He brought a lot to the table.
“He was always prepared, always ready and always brought a lot to the table. With his routine, he never missed. I loved having him and loved watching him play.”