Ichiro Suzuki isn’t swinging a hot bat. Not with a .176 average.
But it has nothing to do with the bats themselves. Just ask Marcell Ozuna, who homered for a second game in a row using a black bat he borrowed from the 43-year-old legend.
“Magic bat,” Ozuna said.
Few would argue after Ozuna homered with one of Ichiro’s lighter bats on Wednesday, then promptly bowed to the Japanese baseball star and retired the bat on the spot.
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“I hit a homer again and say no more,” Ozuna said.
Ozuna made a spur-of-the-moment decision on Tuesday to try one of Ichiro’s bats. When he asked to borrow one, Ichiro said he was “kind of shocked” and even a little confused. He thought perhaps Ozuna wanted him to sign a bat as a keepsake, not use the thing in an actual game.
After all, Ichiro’s bats are smaller and lighter than Ozuna’s.
But if Ichiro could pile up 3,000 hits using them, Ozuna figured they couldn’t be all bad. And so he went 3 for 5 with a home run using one on Tuesday and homered with it again in Wednesday’s first trip to the plate.
“I was kind of nervous for him,” Ichiro said. “It was really surprising.”
And that was that. Ozuna decided not to push his luck and went back to his regular, two-tone bat for the rest of Wednesday’s game, going 2 for 4 with his own model.
Ozuna said he has no plans to continue using Ichiro’s bat despite the success he had with it. The lucky bat won’t be forgotten, however. Ozuna said he intends to have Ichiro sign it.
“I’m going to clean it and everything,” Ozuna said. “I want to hang it on my wall at home.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Given his history with injuries, the Marlins are taking no chances with Giancarlo Stanton with even the slightest of physical issues. One day after being removed in the sixth inning with what manager Don Mattingly called a “little cramp” in his left hamstring, Stanton started Wednesday’s game on the bench.
“I’m being a little cautious,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly said Stanton told trainers before Wednesday’s game that he felt good to play. But Mattingly decided giving the slugger an extra day of rest was the safest option. He said he expects Stanton to return to the lineup on Thursday.
▪ The Marlins are expected to place pitcher Justin Nicolino on the 10-day disabled list because of a blood blister that formed on his left index finger. Nicolino sustained the injury Tuesday when he squared to bunt and the pitch caught the tip of his finger.
“Taking that blood out of there, it’s going to create a pocket,” Mattingly said. “Something’s going to have to heal in there.”
Mattingly said the Marlins don’t expect Nicolino’s DL stay to be long-term.
Vance Worley could slide into Nicolino’s rotation spot for the time being.
▪ Third baseman Martin Prado (hamstring) and Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique muscle) are on target to begin playing minor-league games in about two weeks, Mattingly said. … Reliever Junichi Tazawa (rib cartilage inflammation) is also ready to start pitching in rehab games. But the Marlins are first trying to find him a new interpreter. … Pitcher Tom Koehler (shoulder bursitis) is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday and will likely start out at Single A Jupiter before continuing his rehab work at Triple A New Orleans, Mattingly said.
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (2017 debut) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke (6-3, 3.24 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (3-2, 3.14) vs. Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (4-5, 5.14), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.