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Ichiro Suzuki (kind of?) retires, Seattle Mariners announce

44 year old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has announced he will be moving to a front office role with Seattle for the rest of the season

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Ichiro Suzuki retirement: The Seattle Mariners have announced outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is retiring, effectively immediately, and is joining the front office as a special assistant. Ichiro, 44, signed with the Mariners as a free agent this offseason, after having spent the previous three seasons with the Marlins.

Ichiro came to the United States for the 2001 season amidst much skepticism about whether, after extended success in Japan, his style of play would translate to the major leagues. He proved the doubters wrong immediately, however, winning the A.L. Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards for a 116 win Seattle Mariners team, slashing .350/.381/.457, and also nabbing Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He spent almost 12 years with Seattle, being named to the All Star team and winning a Gold Glove in each of his first ten seasons, before being traded to the Yankees during the 2012 season. Ichiro stayed with the Yankees through the 2014 season, and then played for the Marlins from 2015-17, before returning to Seattle this year, where he had a .205/.255/.205 slash line in 47 plate appearances prior to today’s announcement.

Ichiro is a lock to be named to the Hall of Fame, likely on the first ballot. He is high up on a number of leader boards, including being 22nd all time in hits, with 3089, 6th all time in singles, 35th in stolen bases, and, remarkably for someone who didn’t come to the United States until his age 27 season, 36th all time in games played. He logged 1278 hits with a .353/.421/.522 slash line in 9 seasons with the Orix Blue Wave from 1992-2000.

As a Ranger fan, one of the reasons in the early-2000s I hated seeing Texas face the Mariners was because of Ichiro, who, it seemed, every game would beat out a slow roller for an infield single or steal a couple of bases or do something else frustrating and vexing. He had a career .317/.370/.433 slash line against the Rangers, though it seemed like he hit about .500 off of Texas during his career.

Congratulations to Ichiro on a great career.

UPDATE -- Well, I’ve changed the headline, because Ichiro’s agent says he’s “not retiring”:

“He is not retiring -- he’s taking on a different role for 2018, and 2019 has yet to evolve,” Ichiro’s agent, John Boggs, told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Regarding the possibility that Ichiro could return for the Mariners’ Opening Series next season in Japan: “There is always that possibility. ... The future has yet to be determined.”

So...he’s not playing any more in 2018, but is leaving open the possibility of playing in 2019, although at this point, that seems kind of unlikely.