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Ichiro named AL Player of the Week

Ichiro named AL Player of the Week

SEATTLE -- Ichiro Suzuki, a career .332 hitter coming into 2006, started the season hitting .287 in the month of April. Many wondered what had happened to the five-time All Star and 2001 American League MVP.

It was only a matter of time.

"We had several conversations when he wasn't going as good and I always got the same answer," Mariners hitting coach Jeff Pentland said back on May 22. "He always said that he'd be fine and that he'd find a way to get himself out of it."

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After a torrid May that saw Suzuki hit .371 with a .418 OBP, the Mariners right fielder stepped it up another notch last week. Suzuki hit .440 with a double, a triple and two stolen bases. He also drew three walks and collected 14 total bases, leaving him with a .517 OBP and a .560 slugging percentage for the week.

And as a reward for his extraordinary efforts, Suzuki has been named the Bank of America Presents the American League Player of the Week.

Suzuki's week didn't start auspiciously, as he went 0-for-3 on Memorial Day in a 2-0 loss to the Rangers. But on Tuesday he was 2-for-4. And on May 30, Suzuki had an exceptional day, as he went 3-for-4 with a walk and four runs scored.

As the calendar flipped over to June, Suzuki didn't stop hitting. On June 2, he was 2-for-4 in a 4-0 win over the Royals. June 3 saw him stroke three more hits, including a double and a triple, and score two runs in a 12-1 victory.

Suzuki ended the week with a 1-for-5 effort on Sunday.

Suzuki currently leads the Major Leagues in hits with 83 and is on pace for 232 this season. If the pace held, it would be his sixth straight season with over 200 hits. Such a streak would be the Major League record to start a career.

"It's very difficult to do that," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said Sunday. "There are a lot of things that have to happen. Obviously, you have to be a tremendous hitter to do it. You have to have a lot of at-bats. You have to stay healthy. It's not easy."

Suzuki beat out Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews (.444, 1 HR, 6 RBIs) and Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells (.389, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs). Two pitchers, John Rheinecker of the Rangers (2-0, 1.10 ERA, 16 1/3 IP) and Suzuki's teammate Jamie Moyer (1-0, one complete game, 0.00 ERA), were also considered.

Andrew Bare is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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