ARLINGTON -- Ichiro Suzuki started Wednesday's game against the Rangers in a rather
unfamiliar position, serving as the Mariners' designated hitter in manager
Eric Wedge's attempt to keep his legs fresh over the final two
months of the season.
Wedge's move seemed to pay immediate dividends. Ichiro singled
softly to center to lead off the game, then stole his 30th base of the
season. Ichiro is now the 16th player in Major League history to reach
the 30-steal milestone in 10 seasons.
Wedge has used the 37-year-old at DH more often
lately -- three times in the past seven
"I talked to him the other day -- I want to try to keep him as fresh as
we can as we work down the stretch," Wedge said. "If we can DH him
once or twice a week, I don't think it's a bad thing. His lower half is
such a big part of what he does, whether it be at home plate or on the
bases or in the outfield. As we get in the middle of August through
the end of the season, if we can help him stay that much more fresh ...
I think it makes sense."
In 115 games, Ichiro has played right field 108 times and
at DH only seven. He had never served as DH more than six times in
a season prior to Tuesday, and he has only filled that spot 33 times
in his 11-year Major League career.