Ichiro Suzuki made his name with the Seattle Mariners.
For the first time as a Marlin, he’ll be returning to the place where it all started for him when Miami opens a three-game interleague series at Safeco Field on Monday night.
“Being able to see the fans … I want to be able to show them that I’m still healthy and happy and that I’m still playing,” said Ichiro, who spent 12 seasons with the Mariners from 2001-12. “Hopefully, I can show them that.”
Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star for the Mariners before they traded him to the New York Yankees midway through the 2012 season.
Ichiro recalled that Mariners-to-Yankees trade, which occurred while New York was playing a series in Seattle. Ichiro merely went from the home clubhouse to the visiting side. When he recorded his first hit as a Yankee, it caused some confusion.
“When I got a hit and the inning [later] ended, I started to run toward the dugout on the first-base side, where the Mariners were, instead of the third-base side, where the Yankees were,” he said. “So that was kind of different.”
During their series with the Marlins, the Mariners are planning a bobblehead giveaway honoring Ichiro. It will depict him as both a Mariner and a Marlin.
“In Japanese, Marlins and Mariners, they kind of sound the same,” Ichiro said. “When I first signed with the Marlins I had a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, you’re going back to the Mariners.’ ”
For a few days anyway, Ichiro is simply going back home.
PRADO TO RETURN
Third baseman Martin Prado is set to return from the disabled list, just in time for the start of a three-city road trip.
“I think I’m as close as I can be to play at this level now,” Prado said Sunday.
Prado has been out with a hamstring injury he sustained during the World Baseball Classic. He’s coming off four rehab games with Single A Jupiter in which he ran the bases and worked on his hitting timing.
After hitting .305 and appearing in 153 games for them last season, the Marlins awarded Prado with a three-year, $40 million extension.
Even though he started the season on the disabled list, Prado said he has kept close tabs on the Marlins and has enjoyed what he’s seen.