Ichiro settling into role as run producer

Ichiro settling into role as run producer

Ichiro settling into role as run producer
SEATTLE -- Ichiro Suzuki, slugger?

OK, that might never happen, but as the 2012 season heads into its third week, the Mariners' much-publicized lineup switch with their former leadoff man has started to yield some desired results. Ichiro leads a slow-starting offensive club with nine RBIs in 15 games, which means he's on pace to drive in 97 runs this year. That would eclipse his previous single-season Major League high by 28.

It also means the magical number of 100 is within reach, and according to his manager and teammates, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see a man formerly known as a singles hitter drive in triple digits.

"He could probably do anything," outfielder Michael Saunders said. "The sheer bat control is amazing, but it doesn't matter where you put him in the lineup. He picks and chooses times appropriately -- when to really turn on one and let one loose. Even when he swings and misses, he's looking to drive the ball at the right opportunity.

"He's definitely got the potential to drive in 100 runs. It's up to us to get on base for him."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he expected it to take some time for Ichiro to get comfortable in his new role as a run producer, and that things seem to be progressing just fine.

"It looks to me like he's getting more and more comfortable with it, and as our young players continue to develop and be more consistent, it's going to help him and what he's doing," Wedge said. "And it's going to help them."