Ichiro may have played his last game as a major leaguer.
The Seattle Mariners announced on Thursday that the baseball legend will immediately join the team’s front office as a “special assistant to the chairman.” Right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel was selected from Triple-A Tacoma to fill Ichiro’s spot on the roster.
Though the word “retirement” was not used in the release, the Mariners did note that the 44-year-old will not play for the team again in 2018.
Ichiro’s agent John Boggs also told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that Ichiro was not retiring. The Mariners will open the 2019 season in Japan with a series against the A’s, leading some to speculate that Ichiro doesn’t want to hang up his spikes before being able to play in his native land.
Ichiro’s agent, John Boggs: “He is not retiring. He’s taking on a different role for 2018, and 2019 has yet to evolve.” Might Ichiro return for the team’s opening series next season in Japan? “There is always that possibility . . . The future has yet to be determined.”
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 3, 2018
So what will Ichiro be doing in his new role? He “will continue to be an active presence with the Major League club, both at home in Seattle and on the road,” the team’s release read.
“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” Seattle GM Jerry 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 joined the Mariners in 2001 and has 3,089 MLB hits to his name over 18 seasons. He was traded to the Yankees in 2012 and also played for the Marlins before returning to the Mariners this March on a one-year deal. Ichiro appeared in 15 games this season, hitting .205/..255/.205 with no extra-base hits in 47 plate appearances.
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