Suzuki expected to stay in Seattle
John Lackey could not bring himself to be disappointed. He should have been, perhaps. Lackey pitches for the Angels, after all, and the American League West won’t get any easier with leadoff man extraordinaire Ichiro Suzuki on the verge of signing a five-year contract extension worth nearly $100 million with the Seattle Mariners.
“It’s a good thing for them,” Lackey said. “He seems like a good fit there. It would be weird to go back there and not see him.”
The Seattle Times first reported the pending extension on its website Tuesday afternoon. Suzuki, who would have been eligible for free agency this fall, declined to confirm or deny the report before Tuesday’s All-Star game, in which he was named most valuable player.
Suzuki, 33, joined the Mariners after an illustrious career in Japan. He has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons in Seattle, and he can now continue to torment the rest of the AL West.
“It will make our job a lot tougher, but I’m happy for them,” Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “That city really loves him.”
Bob DuPuy, president of Major League Baseball, said he hopes another team moves into Vero Beach, Fla., after the Dodgers vacate their longtime spring home.
“Dodgertown has been an important part of baseball culture,” he said. “If you asked even a casual baseball fan where teams train, they would probably say Dodgertown and Vero Beach. On the other hand, it’s an anomaly, based on the fact that they moved west 50 years ago. It doesn’t make sense for them as a training site.
“It’s always painful to see an old tradition die. I hope another club takes advantage and moves into Dodgertown. It’s a great facility.”
The Dodgers have signed to play in a new spring complex in Glendale, Ariz., starting in 2009. DuPuy said he would be willing to speak with Vero Beach officials about the prospect of another club moving there.
“No one has asked us for help,” he said.
Commissioner Bud Selig said he plans to announce the sites of “at least two or three” future All-Star games “within the next month or two.” He declined to say which sites are under consideration, but a high-ranking baseball source said the Angels are expected to be selected to host one of those games, most likely in 2010.
The All-Star game will be played in Yankee Stadium next year and in St. Louis in 2009. Selig said he planned to alternate sites between leagues, which could leave the Dodgers waiting well into the next decade.
Selig likes to use the game to showcase new ballparks, and the All-Star game has yet to be played in new parks in Arizona, Cincinnati and San Diego. New NL ballparks also are under construction in New York and Washington.
In a question-and-answer session with baseball writers, Selig also reiterated he has not decided whether he would be in attendance when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record, despite an SI.com report that he had decided to be there. Selig also said he would answer questions from George Mitchell, baseball’s steroid investigator, should Mitchell ask.
Selig said he would not repeal the rule requiring each team to be represented in the All-Star game and indicated he had no interest in agent Scott Boras’ idea of extending the World Series to nine games and playing the first two at a neutral site, preceded by an awards gala.
“You play for many decades to get to the World Series, and now you’re going to open the World Series 1,500 miles away from home?” Selig said.
DuPuy said MLB and the Dodgers have resolved their differences over the “Dodgers on Demand” cable channel.
The Dodgers will be allowed to show game replays on the Time Warner channel, enabling fans to view a replay at their convenience. The replays will not be available immediately after games, to protect Channel 9 and FSN Prime Ticket, said spokesman Josh Rawitch.
“The same deal is available to any other club,” DuPuy said.
Rawitch said the Dodgers have not determined when the replay service will become available.
Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero, a notorious first-ball swinger, won Monday’s home run derby, in which he paced himself by taking pitches between some swings. “It’s the most pitches he’s seen in baseball, probably ever,” Seattle closer J.J. Putz said.