PEORIA, Ariz. -- Could Ichiro Suzuki return home to the Mariners?
With Monday's announcement that Ben Gamel has a strained oblique and will miss 4-6 weeks, the Mariners need outfield help. Plenty of outfielders are available.
But USA Today's Bob Nightengale is reporting that the Mariners will bring back the 44-year-old Ichiro, a fan favorite. He played for the Mariners from 2001-12, during which he was a 10-time All-Star selection and won 10 Gold Gloves. He was the 2001 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year, and in 2004 he set the major-league season record for hits with 262.
Some news outlets in Japan also have reported that the Mariners and Ichiro could reunite. Mariners sources declined to confirm Nightengale's report.
Ichiro is working out in Japan, so he'd have to fly to the U.S. and pass a physical before anything could be official.
He played in 136 games for the Miami Marlins last season, predominantly as a pinch-hitter. He hit .255 (50 for 196) with a .318 on-base percentage, .322 slugging percentage, six doubles, three homers and 20 RBIs. He has a good relationship with current Mariners and former Marlins teammates Dee Gordon and David Phelps.
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For his career, Ichiro is a .312 hitter with 3,080 hits and 509 steals. He is the Mariners' career leader in batting average (.322), hits (2,533) and steals (438) and is second in runs scored (1,176).
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