OAKLAND -- The first lineup posted on a wall inside the visiting clubhouse at McAfee Coliseum had "Ichiro" written at the top, as always, as the designated hitter. The second one had "Bloomquist" in the leadoff spot and playing right field. So, what happened to knock Ichiro Suzuki out of the Mariners starting lineup for the first time this season? He simply got the day off -- although he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, and walked.
A complete day of rest is rare for Ichiro, who last sat on Aug. 25, 2007. He missed a total of just three games from 2004-07. Before that, he played in 159 of 162 games in '03 and 157 in '02 and '01. The eight-time All-Star outfielder usually handles the DH duties on his "days off," which is what he and interim manager Jim Riggleman had discussed doing several days ago. The plan was to have Ichiro DH in Thursday afternoon's series finale, following a Wednesday night game. But with the All-Star Game approaching and three games in Kansas City on the horizon, the Mariners decided that they and Ichiro would be best served on Thursday by keeping him out of the starting lineup. Ichiro is closing in on 3,000 career hits in his professional career. He had 1,278 hits during his nine-year stint with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan, and has 1,708 hits in his seven-plus seasons with the Mariners, leaving him 14 hits shy of 3,000. He would become only the second Japanese-born player to accumulate at least 3,000 hits. Isao Harimoto had 3,085 hits during an illustrious career in Japan from 1959-81.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.