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'Duk

Know who also can't escape the steroid suspicion? That Ichiro

Big League Stew

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Did that headline grab your attention? Fantastic!

It's actually my hope that an angry Seattle writer will see it and rebuke me in print. It'll then trickle over to Japan, where I'll become national news and then be invited onto the Japanese version of Outside The Lines, where the Japanese version of Ken Rosenthal will scold me in a language I really don't understand.

And yet it will still be a fun experience to break up some midseason boredom and when I return I can breathlessly tell all of you that 'Kevin Kaduk' is Japanese for 'Jerod Morris.'

What can I say? We all have fantasies.

Where was I? Ah, yes. I originally wanted to make the point that Raul Ibanez(notes) isn't the only guy in his mid-30s putting up eye-popping numbers to start the season.

Out in Seattle, the 35-year-old Ichiro(notes) seemingly can't be stopped, putting up a slash line of .360/.397/.496 that's well above his career average of .332/.377/.433. Though he started the season with others speculating that he might be burned out, he's produced numbers above or comparable to his record-breaking 262 campaign in 2004, without a doubt his best year playing in North America.

Ichiro is proving that he's still as resourceful with the bat as ever — he just posted a 27-game hitting streak — but his power numbers have spiked. His OPS+ is at 139 (it was 130 in '04) and his five homers this season puts him on the doorstep on the total of six he posted in '07 and '08. He's been right there with both Chipper Jones and Hunter Pence when it comes to the number of extra-base hits those sluggers are putting up.

And yet I don't think you'll find anyone out there who immediately thinks of PED use, like they might've with Ibanez, when it comes to Ichiro's super start.

(The ironic part is that if you're suspicious of Ibanez, even without evidence, you should feel the same away about Ichiro. Unlike Rauuuul!, Ichiro hasn't switched leagues, left Safeco Field — though he's hitting .402/.435/.520 on the road — or had a complete offseason of rest, due to his play in the WBC.)

Just like his former Mariners teammate, Ichiro can be a streaky hitter — even though his streaks can last months instead of the usual weeks — and he's started the 2009 season with both guns blazing. Statistically, Ichiro has Ibanez's back this season.

And lest I get a phone call in the middle of the night this weekend from the Japanese version of Bob Ley, I should spell out that the headline and intro of this article are layered with heavy doses of lighthearted sarcasm and tongue-in-cheekness. I do not think Ichiro should be suspected of steroid use. Dude is just hotter than hot right now.

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