OAKLAND -- The intrasquad game Ichiro Suzuki was supposed to play Saturday afternoon in Peoria, Ariz., was rained out, so the Mariners right fielder worked out in the batting cages. After limiting his game activity to 20 at-bats on Thursday and Friday, the game plan for Saturday was for Ichiro to get a few more at-bats and play several innings in the outfield. But those plans were scrapped and he will return to Seattle on Sunday morning, have a blood test on Monday, and participate in the Mariners' off-day workout at Safeco Field. The Mariners have their regular-season home opener at 3:40 p.m. PT on Tuesday, the day before Ichiro is elgible to come off the 15-day disabled list. He went on the DL for the first time during his eight-year MLB career because of severe fatigue caused by a bleeding ulcer.
He has regained his strength and is expected to be activated prior to Wednesday night's game against the AL West rival Angels. Third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo probably would return to Triple-A Tacoma in a corresponding transaction. "We're looking forward to get him up there," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. A .331 career hitter and record holder for most hits in a single season, Ichiro is working on an MLB record-tying eight consecutive 200-hit seasons. He currently shares the record with Hall of Fame outfielder Wee Willie Keeler. The first month of the season historically has been Ichiro's most difficult. He entered this season with a .294 batting average in April and at least a .317 mark every other month, including a .364 average in May, his best month. Saturday's rainout -- something that didn't happen during the seven-week-long Spring Training, also postponed a scheduled simulated game for left-hander Tyler Johnson. He got his work inside the cages and the simulated game was rescheduled for Monday. "He is getting real close to going out on [a rehab] assignment," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He has thrown close to six simulated games and he's not a guy we need to extend his pitching count to 50 or so. One thing we did talk about before he left [Major League camp] was we would like for him to be able to throw at least an inning when he gets up here, rather than just be a specialist. "We want to stretch him out to a point where he gets out there and pitches and pitches well."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.