Ichiro Suzuki was back in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse on Tuesday, in uniform and even wore batting gloves into his first meeting.
“I will say he’s the first coach I’ve had come into a coaches meeting with batting gloves on,” Seattle manager Scott Servais joked.
This is not another comeback by Suzuki. He is completely retired from his playing career. But Tuesday was the beginning of his next chapter as he rejoined the Mariners as a special assistant to the chairman.
Suzuki will work as an instructor with both the major league club and some of the organization’s players in the minors.
“Certainly it’s a big life change for (Ichiro). Nobody has been more regimented in their lifestyle and what they go about every day than Ichiro,” Servais said. “So making the change; like he said he’s been cleaning the house and making breakfast. Things that Ichiro has never done. He’s going through a transition. But I think the role and how much impact is evolving. Wait and see about where his niche is and what he gravitates toward.”
Suzuki was in the Mariners clubhouse before the series opener against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since playing in the final two games of his career last month when Seattle opened the season in Japan with two games against the Oakland Athletics.
Even after his retirement, Suzuki was expected to continue having a relationship with the organization.
Suzuki is taking on the same title as he had last year after he stepped away from playing following the first month of the season. Servais said Suzuki will be around the team during home games and will likely spend some time with the team’s Triple-A franchise in Tacoma, Washington, working with players at that level.
Servais said his goal is to give Suzuki insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of the coaching staff.
“I want to give him as much exposure as I possibly can and what goes on kind of behind the scenes in preparation for a series, dealing with players just the conversations that go on,” Servais said.
“It’s not always just about how they’re hitting, but it’s the whole package. How do we reach this guy or how do we get more out of him in the weight room or training room or whatever. He will be around. He wants to kind of ease into it. As far as meetings and stuff though I want to give him a lot of exposure.”
Suzuki is officially working for team chairman John Stanton, but will report to general manager Jerry Dipoto in his new role.
Unlike last year when Suzuki was staying in playing shape so that he could begin this season on the major league roster, he won’t be taking part in pregame workouts aside from maybe throwing batting practice.
“I think you’ll see him in the batting cage a lot because that’s his comfort zone,” Servais said. “I look forward to having him around. He’s an insightful person and certainly knows our team, but it’s different when you’re sitting in here and we’re talking about players and how to get them better.”