Ichiro Suzuki should break the Marlins’ single-season mark for pinch hits.
He could break the major-league mark.
And — shhh — he would prefer that nobody notices.
“I don’t want to come to the clubhouse and people look at me and be able to tell I’m not in the lineup,” Suzuki said through his interpreter. “I want to prepare the same, be the same, and act the same. That hasn’t changed, and won’t change.”
Suzuki has started just 17 games this season.
But he’s come off the bench 73 times to pinch hit, and he’s come through with a major league-leading 20 hits — one shy of Ross Gload’s team record set in 2009.
The major-league record of 28 pinch hits belongs to John Vander Wal, who set the mark in 1995 with Colorado.
“Obviously, it’s tough being in this role, not getting to play,” Suzuki said. “But it does become a motivation when you have [a record] you can go after. It kind of helps you when you’re going through it, maybe supports you a little bit —something to look at and try to get to.”
Suffice to say, breaking the record for pinch hits probably wouldn’t rank up there on the list of Suzuki’s personal accomplishments.
His 3,066 career hits would certainly rank higher.
So would his big-league mark of 262 hits in 2004.
But at least he’s not collecting splinters on the Marlins bench. He has been manager Don Mattingly’s go-to pinch-hitter, so much so that Suzuki needs only 10 more pinch at bats to equal the single-season major-league record held by Lenny Harris. He should break that with ease.
“I never imagined that,” Suzuki said of becoming a expert pinch-hitter in his twilight years.
Suzuki said going to part-time duty has been an adjustment.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve been a starter, so that mind-set is little different. It’s one of those roles — and I’m not saying it in a negative way, in any way — for somebody who doesn’t think and just goes up there and doesn’t drag it into the next game. I think those types of players, the pinch-hit role is probably more geared towards.”
Nonetheless, it’s the role Suzuki has for now.
SAMSON WILL BE LOOKING FOR WORK
David Samson, the loquacious and occasionally polarizing president of the Marlins for the past 15 years, will be looking for a new job when new owners take over the franchise.
A source said prospective owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter have informed the league they do not intend to retain Samson if their bid to buy the franchise is approved. Their application is currently being reviewed by league owners and could be finalized before the end of the season in September.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that Sherman informed him Jeter would run day-to-day operations.
Samson became the most visible of all Marlins executives over the years, more so than owner Jeffrey Loria. He was at the forefront of the team’s successful bid to secure public financing for a new ballpark, which opened in 2012.
He squabbled with local politicians, as well as agent Scott Boras. Samson has one year left on his contract that reportedly will pay him $5 million.
Samson was also active in philanthropic endeavors and this winter plans to lead a contingent of Marlins officials, who will run marathons on seven continents in seven days to benefit multiple charities.
Samson, 49, served on various league committees, including one that examined ways to speed up the game. In 2014, he appeared on the CBS series “Survivor” and was the first contestant voted out.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Vance Worley (2-2, 4.97) at New York Mets RHP Rafael Montero (1-8, 5.80), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.
▪ Sunday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (5-5, 5.32) at Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (13-6, 3.35), 1:10 p.m., Citi Field.