SEATTLE (AP) - Ichiro Suzuki is headed to a new team and, after all these years, maybe a shot at playing in the World Series.
“I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins,” he said. “It’s hard to contain my excitement for that reason.”
The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place Mariners. The trade was announced a few hours before the Yankees played at Seattle.
Moving from one clubhouse to another, Suzuki started in right field in place of the injured Nick Swisher and batted eighth for New York on Monday night. It was the first time Suzuki started a game batting anywhere other than the top three spots in the lineup.
Fans at Safeco Field gave Suzuki a 45 second standing ovation when he came to bat with one out in the third inning. He doffed his helmet and bowed twice to the crowd before hitting a single and stealing second base.
The Yankees made the trade a few days after learning that speedy outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki will mostly play left field.
“We’re very excited with the caliber of player we are getting. We feel that he brings the speed element. He’s a tremendous hitter. That speed element is what we lost when Gardy had surgery,” Girardi said. “So this is a big day for us.”
“No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it’s hard for me to ask for that number.”
Mitchell made his major league debut this season and pitched four games for the Yankees. Farquhar made his big league debut last year with Toronto and was claimed last month on waivers by the Yankees from Oakland.
The 38-year-old Suzuki had spent his whole big league career with Seattle. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this year.
Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every season until dipping last year.
The only thing missing on Suzuki’s resume is an appearance in the World Series, and he may get a chance with the Yankees. Suzuki was the AL MVP and rookie of the year in 2001 after a stellar career in Japan, and the Mariners reached the AL championship series that season before losing to the Yankees. Seattle has not been back to the playoffs since then.
He said he hasn’t played in left field since those 2001 playoffs.