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Ichiro Suzuki on being benched by Yankees: “It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before”

Apr 3, 2014, 1:33 PM EST

ichiro suzuki getty Getty Images

Ichiro Suzuki is a bench player for the first time in his career at age 40. He’s yet to appear in a game for the Yankees, as they go with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran as the starting outfield, and Suzuki talked to Brendan Kuty of the Newark Star Ledger about how he’s feeling:

It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before. So I have nothing to compare it to. This is just a first-time experience for me. … As human beings, there are things we have to adjust to. And that’s what I’m going through right now. You just never know. You don’t know. I don’t know if I should assume if this is going to be what’s going to be happening in the future. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. All I can do is what I’m doing now and just adjust accordingly.

And then, because Ichiro’s humor is always underrated, he also said:

I know the rules in baseball aren’t going to change, but maybe they can play four outfielders? I haven’t thought about that before. But now I do.

It’s tough to blame the Yankees for not playing Ichiro and also tough to blame other teams for not making a run at trading for him, because he’s old and hit just .273 with a .605 OPS in 473 games from 2011-2013. Still, it’s sad to see him go out collecting dust on a bench.

  1. happytwinsfan - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    i don’t think it’s sad at all, and that’s nothing against suzuki. he’s with his team, ready to contribute at any moment asked and handling his reduced role with as much grace and humor as he can muster. i call that going out with professionalism and dignity.

    • stoutfiles - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      It’s sad because he’s two seasons from hitting 3k hits in MLB, and he’s not going to get there as a role player.

      • renaado - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Still, it’s already an amazing feat on what he has already done in the Majors. Even though he can’t get that 3000 MLB hits you can already salute him on what he has done on the highest level of professional baseball. He justs wants to play longer there from what I can say, unless his body already wants to call it quits on a well accomplished career.

      • genericcommenter - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        Yeah, but you could have said that about a lot of players. What they all have in common is they all stopped being useful full-time players. Therefore, they aren’t going to get the playing time to meet the milestones. Johnny Damon thought he was there, too. People probably thought Michael Young had a chance. Vlad, Sheff, Vizquel, and so on. Jamie Moyer could have been a AAA/6th starter until he was 55 and hit 300 wins. Mussina could have done it in 2 more seasons if he got all the lucky breaks. Don Mattingly could have hit 3000 if he played 6 more seasons as .280 hitting DH with no power. Kirby would have if not for glaucoma.

        Ichiro hasn’t been a starting caliber player at the plate (I give him a lot of credit in the field and on the bases still) in close to 3 years. He’s 2 seasons of PRIME Ichiro from 3000, but he’s not prime Ichiro. Heck, Derek Jeter could have 4000 if he played like 2009 forever and never got hurt. It doesnt work like that.

    • dolphinstruth - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:38 PM

      It’s not sad…it’s disgusting. Joey Girardi stubbornly has benched Ichiro for two straight years in favor of inferior bums like Jacoby Ellsbury, Ben Francisco, and Brett “No Clutch Hits in My Entire Career” Gardner

      • measy81 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:14 AM

        Congrats on a ridiculously ignorant comment. Ichiro played every game he was with the Yanks in 2012, and 150 last season. Jacoby Ellsbury is a far better player at this point in his career, Francisco was only on the team for a month and never stole playing time from Ichiro, and Gardner started along side him. Get your facts straight before looking like a moron.

  2. sensiblevoice - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    How long before Ichiro’s retirement run begins, and the Kansas City Royals give him sushi with the Yankees and Mariners logo on it?

    • skids003 - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Be careful, the PC police will get you.

      • jwbiii - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        No worries. The Mariners sold an IchiRoll when he played there. Spicy tuna. “Spicy” raw fish isn’t my thing; can’t tell the difference between it and “not fresh” raw fish.

  3. cackalackyank - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    What a great sense of humor. Hang in there Ichiro-san. With the fragility of Ellsbury, and the age quotient of Soriano and Beltran many at bats could be just a line drive or an at bat away.

  4. NYTolstoy - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    It’s sad he most likely won’t get to 3000 hits but he’s a hall of famer either way. One thing that bugged me a little was why the Yanks gave him a 2 year deal. But atleast he’s a viable defense replacement late in innings and most likely will get some playing time once an injury occurs. Baseball is a long season and I hope they all get to play 145 games but most of the times that’s not a reality.

  5. shaggylocks - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    A lot of the greats go out collecting dust on the bench, especially when they stick around into their fifth decade. It’s just the way of the game. In about twenty years we’ll feel the same way about Mike Trout riding the pine and providing veteran presence.

    • larrytsg - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Some of the greatest went out not with a fanfare but with a whimper. We all know Ted Williams homered in his last at-bat, rounded the bases and continued into the dugout. But he was the exception. Babe Ruth played for the Boston Braves and was just a shadow of his great self. Willie Mays didn’t show too good in New York in 72-73 (even 9 year old me managed to forget that he fell down in the outfield in the ’73 World Series). Steve Carlton pitched all over the place before he hung it up, and even Hank Aaron finished his last season with a 229/315/684 line with only 10 HR in 85 games as a DH.

      We’ve been spoiled the last few years with players who are at the end of their careers announcing their retirement and taking in the whole Retirement Tour as regular players. Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter are all lucky to be able to go out on their own time, but it could have been ugly if Jeter were not able to come back from his injury (hopefully he plays a complete season), Rivera made a wonderful comeback for his final season, and Jones was still a regular.

      Most of them end up playing sporadically, collecting jerseys from brief stops along the way at the end of their careers, and are featured down the road in one of those photo essays like “Hey, Pedro Martinez played 9 games for the Phillies”

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        Love the unanimity of reaction to your excellent comment.

  6. whatacrocker - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Brian Cashman should be getting a call from Ruben Amaro at any moment…

  7. zdravit - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Trade his bitchass.

    • renaado - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Are u mad dude !?

    • zdravit - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      That’s some impressive downvoting. I don’t even care about that team. Joke’s on you guys.

  8. markdartj - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    There can be four outfielders, although that will leave only three infielders.

  9. rcali - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Even though Suzuki pretends not to know a lick of English even though he’s now been in the states for the past 13 years, I wish him the best in his retirement.

    • genericcommenter - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      If this is a serious comment, there’s enough nuance in language (and enough “gotcha” attempts by the media) that if I moved to a different country with a foreign language, I’d probably still want an interpreter 13 years later, too. Heck, I took Spanish for 2 years in high school plus 4 semesters in college (a foreign language proficiency was required to graduate), which included being forced to read, hear and speak it 5 days a week, and I’d be uncomfortable using it outside of very casual (or very dire) situations. I’d hate talking to reporters in English.

      • cktai - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:21 AM

        I wouldn’t have a problem with moving to the US and speaking English with reporters, even though it is my third language. In fact I will write my PhD thesis in English. The difference with Ichiro is of course that I started learning English from age 11 rather than age 28, and that English is far more similar to Dutch than it is to Japanese.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      He doesn’t pretend to not know English, he knows every word he says is dissected and analyzed to death back in Japan, so he doesn’t take the chance of mispeaking in his second language or having his words mistranslated.

  10. deedee2die4 - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Let’s see, Ichiro made a deal with the devil and now is complaining? Too bad, enjoy NY an the Steinkbreeder boys.

  11. J. Robert Hanson - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    40 in baseball years is like 85 in real life. Sorry Ichiro—everything has a shelf life.

  12. sanzarq - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    I can’t believe he thinks that he can do better than the 3 guys in front of him. His productivity has been dropping the last few years, so he’s lucky he still has a roster spot at his age. He had a great run but he needs to learn that it’s time to shut up & not grouse about getting playing time that he hasn’t earned.

    • dolphinstruth - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      LOL, are you serious Sanzarq? Name me one clutch hit…just one…that Brett Gardner ever got in his life? And former Sock Jacoby Ellsbury…name me one pitcher in MLB who fears Ellsbury like pitchers fear Ichiro.

      • cktai - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:48 AM

        Last August the Yankees still had a decent chance in the AL East and the two wild cards.

        On August 9th against the Tigers, Gardner hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning with 2 out and the bases loaded. Two days later in the same series, Gardner hit the walk-off home run off of Veras.
        On August 18th against the Red Sox, Gardner hit a triple with the bases loaded in the 6th inning to turn a 4-6 deficit into a 7-6 lead. That game was eventually won by 9-6

  13. dolphinstruth - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    It’s disgusting that Clueless Joey Girardi is allowed to bench such a hitter as Ichiro, especially in favor of former Sock Jacoby Ellsbury and his 0-for-8 season so far…

    • cktai - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:52 AM

      Emilio Bonifacio is 11-17 this season. Just saying.

  14. jared143 - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    I hope the other outfielders gets injured so that Ichiro can have more playing time.

    Will the Yankees bench Derek Jeter if he’s hitting near .200? I don’t see him in the second spot.

  15. jared143 - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    Lol Ichiro is starting today. Thank god. I want this guy to pass Pete Rose.

  16. toledotigerfan - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Well, that’s what happens with a .260 hitter with little power. The bench grows to accommodate him. Loved watching Ichiro in his prime, but he’s waaaaay past that now.

  17. mkprz - May 31, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    I guess it’s more prestigious to sit on the bench as a Yankee than play as a Mariner

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