Ichiro singles in first at-bat as Yankees top Mariners

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The Yankees ended their season-high four-game losing streak Monday, but this one was all about Ichiro Suzuki.

Facing his old teammates in the ballpark in which he spent 11 1/2 seasons, Ichiro got a huge ovation in his first at-bat for the Yankees and responded by bowing towards the Safeco Field crowd. He then promptly lined a single to center field and stole second base. It was his lone hit in four at-bats as the Yankees won 4-1.

Ichiro hit eighth and started in right field in his Yankees debut. Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that Ichiro would play mostly left field, but with Nick Swisher still nursing a hip flexor strain, Ichiro was able to start in his traditional spot tonight.

The eighth spot in the order was something new. Ichiro never hit lower than third in 1,844 games for the Mariners. However, given that he came into Monday batting .261/.288/.353 on the season, eighth or ninth is probably where he belongs in the Yankees lineup.

Ichiro also gave up his customary No. 51 and chose to wear No. 31 for the Yankees. No. 51 was Bernie Williams’ number, and while the Bombers haven’t retired it yet, they also haven’t issued it since he ended his career. Ichiro’s new No. 31 is the number Dave Winfield wore for the Yankees.

Taking over for Ichiro in right field for the Mariners tonight was Carlos Peguero. He went 0-for-3 and struck out twice, giving him 12 strikeouts versus just five hits in 24 at-bats for Seattle. The Mariners as a whole had three hits on the night.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.