Ichiro Suzuki Wants to Play Until 50, Lauds Shohei Ohtani at Mariners Presser

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 7, 2018

FILE - In this April 17, 2017, file photo, Miami Marlins' Ichiro Suzuki smiles to fans as he takes the field during batting practice before a baseball game against his former team, the Seattle Mariners, in Seattle. The Mariners finalized a one-year deal with 44-year-old Japanese star on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, after several outfielders got hurt. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Seattle Mariners announced a one-year deal Wednesday to bring back outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, and the 10-time All-Star addressed his future in Major League Baseball in a press conference.

Last year, Suzuki told reporters he wanted to keep playing into his 50s. When the subject of his age and future prospects in MLB came up, Suzuki pointed out that playing until his age-50 season isn't the goal.

"I want to make sure that everyone understands when I say I want to play until I am 50, I mean I want to play until I am at least 50," he said.

Just as Suzuki first arrived in Seattle from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league 17 years ago, Los Angeles Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is joining MLB this season. The 2001 American League MVP had high praise for his countryman's mental makeup.

"Obviously the age difference, I'm like a father and he's like the son," Suzuki said of the 23-year-old Ohtani. "But mentally, he's like the father and I'm like the son."

Age was a frequent topic of discussion for Suzuki during his press conference, particularly relative to how old some of his Mariners teammates are.

"I'm a little worried some of those guys in there [the clubhouse] will be my children's ages, but once I get on the field and they see me play, I hope I can get right in there with the kids and perform with them," he said.

Going back to the start of his Japanese career in 1992, Suzuki has been playing professional baseball longer than Mariners closer Edwin Diaz (23 years old) has been alive.

Suzuki is set to become the first MLB position player since Omar Vizquel in 2012 aged 44 or older to appear in a regular-season game.

In his first stint with the Mariners, Suzuki was named to 10 straight All-Star teams and won 10 straight Gold Glove awards from 2001 to 2010. His first season in 2001 was also the last time Seattle made the postseason, losing to the New York Yankees in the ALCS after winning 116 games in the regular season.

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