Ichiro laughs off Mariners manager's plea that he be invited to the Home Run Derby
Ichiro has displayed prodigious batting-practice power but doesn't seem interested in the Derby
The big question leading up to the 2018 Home Run Derby in Nationals Park is whether hometown cloutsman Bryce Harper will participate. The next biggest question -- the one you didn't realize was being asked -- is whether Ichiro will heed his former manager's call and take his whacks in the Derb'.
Ichiro is of course no longer on the Mariners' active roster, but he's still around as a coach and as an informal batting-practice participant. It's that latter role that prompted M's skipper Scott Servais to say Ichiro should sign up and flash his power in D.C. Here's Servais' interview with MLB Network Radio ...
And the money quote:
"I think Ichiro would be a great addition at the home run-hitting contest at the All-Star Game, because he takes BP every day and he is launching balls -- it is really fun to watch. He comes out every day, he takes his BP very seriously. Everybody remembers when Ichiro was on top of his game he was slapping the ball all over the place, but he has power.
"We came out for early BP yesterday and he got on the board, he threw (for) about 20-25 minutes to our guys, and then when the regular BP started he got in (the batter's box) and he started launching balls."
As for the man himself, he got a good laugh out of it but doesn't sound inclined to oblige ...
Doesn't sound like it's going to happen, even if Mark Buehrle putting it on a tee for Ichiro in 2018 sounds like what this world needs right about now. Consolation prize? Maybe this ...
That sounds all right, too.
As for the merits of Servais' idea, it's not a new thing. Ichiro of course mustered just 117 home runs across parts of 18 big-league seasons with a single-year peak of 15 back in 2005. That said, Ichiro's BP exploits have always been the stuff of baseball "true lore," and in the early days of his career a narrative of "he could hit for power if he wanted to" was easy to come by.
There's probably some merit to all of that, but it seems unlikely that 45-year-old Ichiro would fare very well in the Derby. But wouldn't it be fun to find out? Maybe a finals match-up with Madison Bumgarner? There's something to dream on.
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