A lot of people were looking forward to seeing Ichiro Suzuki and Shohei Ohtani share the same field this weekend. And that included Ichiro Suzuki.
The possibility disappeared Thursday when Seattle announced that Ichiro, 44, was moving into the role of assistant to the general manager for the remainder of this season.
Still, the Mariners star remained interested in watching Ohtani, to the point where he joked Friday about sneaking into the Seattle dugout during the game for an up-close look.
“I was definitely very excited to see him for the first time in person,” Ichiro said. “Maybe I’ll have to pull a Bobby Valentine today. Today’s the day.”
After being ejected from a game in 1999 while managing the New York Mets, Valentine later returned to the dugout wearing dark glasses and a fake mustache.
Yet, he deferred to Ohtani, a rookie barely a month into his big-league career.
“You can’t even compare me to him,” Ichiro said Friday, “because he’s actually doing something that is going to impact not just Japan or here but the whole world.”
Ohtani threw a bullpen session Friday a few hours before serving as the Angels’ designated hitter for the fourth consecutive game. He is expected to start on the mound Sunday in the finale of this three-game series.
Ohtani already has been the American League’s player of the week and rookie of the month this season.
“He’s real pure, just real clean,” Ichiro said. “You can’t help but like him. There’s nothing to not like about him. Some people, because he can do it all and he’s such a good guy, maybe they don’t like him because of that.”
*Martin Maldonado was placed on the bereavement list and is expected to miss this series. Manager Mike Scioscia said the team’s No. 1 catcher would rejoin the Angels when they open a two-game set Tuesday in Denver. Catcher Juan Graterol was promoted from triple-A Salt Lake, and Rene Rivera moved into the starting lineup against the Mariners.
*Third baseman Zack Cozart (back) didn’t start for the third time in four games. Scioscia indicated that he expected Cozart to be back in the lineup Saturday.