|Ichiro singles in ihs first at-bat as a Yankee. (US Presswire)
|Seattle fans give Ichiro Suzuki a standing ovation. (Associated Press)
Ichiro Suzuki received a standing ovation from Mariners fans in his first at-bat as a New York Yankee and responded with a bow -- and a single.
Traded to the Yankees before Monday's game, the 38-year-old Suzuki donned No. 31 for the Yankees, taking a new number out of respect for Bernie Williams, whose No. 51 is not officially retired by the Yankees.
Batting eighth and playing right field, Suzuki came to the plate for the first time in the third inning on Monday and lined the second pitch he saw from Seattle starter Kevin Millwood up the middle for a one-out single. He then stole second and advanced to third on a ground out. He was stranded at third when Derek Jeter grounded out to end the inning.
Suzuki was retired in his final three at-bats, finishing 1 for 4 in the Yankees' 4-1 victory.
Before the game, Suzuki said, "when I imagine taking off a Mariner uniform, I was overcome with sadness."
After spending the first 11-and-a-half years in a Mariners uniofrm, it was strange to see him wearing the interlocking NY on his cap. But it's something most expected -- if not this soon -- but with free agency approaching and the Mariners obviously moving in another direction, it was doubtful Suzuki was going to be a Mariner in 2013 anyway. At his press conference before the game, Suzuki said he approached the Mariners about a trade.
"When I spent time during the All-Star break to think, I realized that this team has many players in their early 20s, and I began to think I should not be on this team next year," Suzuki said. "When I thought about the future of the team… I also started to feel a desire to be in an atmosphere that I could have a different kind of stimulation than I have now. If that were the case, it would be the best decision for both parties involved that I leave the team as soon as possible, and I have made this decision. Thanks to the Mariner organization for accepting this request."
Mariners manager Jack Zduriencik said granting Suzuki's request was "the right thing to do."
"It's perfectly clear what we're doing here," Zdurincik said (via MLB.com). "There's no running from it. They're right in front of our eyes. We'll continue to do what we're doing."
It was the right thing for the Mariners to do, and it was nice to see the Mariners fans did the right thing as well, cheering on their long-time star.
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