It's official: Ichiro is a Mariner again

Larry Stone, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ichiro is officially a Mariner again.

One of the iconic players in franchise history before being traded to the Yankees in July 2012, Ichiro has agreed to terms on a one-year major-league contract with the Seattle ballclub.

The acquisition, which has been rumored since Monday, was announced Wednesday morning.

"The addition of Ichiro gives our team another versatile and athletic outfielder," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. "His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways. He's truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his unquestionable presence is a valuable addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We're very glad to bring him back home."

The 44-year-old outfielder has played the past three seasons with the Miami Marlins but was not re-signed by them and became a free agent. The Mariners had an outfield need Monday when their regular left fielder, Ben Gamel, was diagnosed with an oblique strain that is expected to sideline him four to six weeks.

They turned to Ichiro, who electrified the baseball world when he moved from Japan to Seattle in 2001. Joining a Mariners team that would set an American League record with 116 victories, Ichiro earned the American League Most Valuable Player award after winning the first of his two batting titles with a .350 average.

Dubbed "the Sultan of Slap" for his unique hitting style, Ichiro would accumulate more than 200 hits in 10 consecutive seasons, including a major-league-record 262 in 2004. He made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in each of those 10 years as well.

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But with the Mariners in a period of transition and Ichiro's skills in decline, he asked for a trade in 2012, which was consummated July 23. The Mariners received pitchers Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell from the Yankees.

This will be Ichiro's 18th major-league season. He has a career .312 average and 3,080 hits, which ranks 22nd on the all-time list and makes him one of just 31 players with 3,000 hits. Ichiro also had 1,278 hits during nine seasons in Japan with the Orix Blue Wave, the combined total of 4,358 surpassing Pete Rose's major-league-record 4,256 hits.

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