The release didn’t mention the word “retire,” but for all intents and purposes, Ichiro Suzuki is retiring. On Thursday, the Mariners announced that Ichiro would be transitioning to a special assistant role, effective immediately.
With this special assistant job, Ichiro will remain around the Mariners team and work in both coaching and mentoring roles.
In his new role, Ichiro will continue to be an active presence with the Major League club, both at home in Seattle and on the road.
“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” Dipoto said. “This new role is a way to accomplish that. While it will evolve over time, the key is that Ichiro’s presence in our clubhouse and with our players and staff improves our opportunity to win games. That is our number-one priority and Ichiro’s number-one priority.”
Ichiro will work in collaboration with the Mariners Major League Staff, High Performance Staff and Front Office personnel. He will assist, based on his experience, with outfield play, baserunning and hitting. And he will provide mentorship to both players and staff.t
Again, the release doesn’t say Ichiro is retiring, but it *does* mention that he won’t return to Seattle’s active roster this season and that his future past 2018 is still undetermined.
Ichiro’s new role will preclude him from returning to the active roster in 2018.
“While this agreement only covers the 2018 season, it is our goal that Ichiro be a member of the Seattle organization long-term,” Dipoto said. “As his role evolves over the 2018 season, it will inform the team and Ichiro on his best fit with us in 2019 and beyond.”
In his return to Seattle this season, Ichiro has struggled (to say the least). In 15 games, he’s hit just .205/.255/.205, scoring five runs, driving in zero, and collecting no extra base hits. Assuming this is the end, he finishes his career with a .311 batting average and 3,089 hits, 22nd all-time (for now, with Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols within 100 hits of him). When all is said and done for Ichiro, he’ll have a plaque hanging at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and I think everyone in Seattle is glad they got to see him for one final month as a Mariner this year.