Ichiro Suzuki on being benched by Yankees: “It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before”

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Ichiro Suzuki is a bench player for the first time in his career at age 40. He’s yet to appear in a game for the Yankees, as they go with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran as the starting outfield, and Suzuki talked to Brendan Kuty of the Newark Star Ledger about how he’s feeling:

It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before. So I have nothing to compare it to. This is just a first-time experience for me. … As human beings, there are things we have to adjust to. And that’s what I’m going through right now. You just never know. You don’t know. I don’t know if I should assume if this is going to be what’s going to be happening in the future. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. All I can do is what I’m doing now and just adjust accordingly.

And then, because Ichiro’s humor is always underrated, he also said:

I know the rules in baseball aren’t going to change, but maybe they can play four outfielders? I haven’t thought about that before. But now I do.

It’s tough to blame the Yankees for not playing Ichiro and also tough to blame other teams for not making a run at trading for him, because he’s old and hit just .273 with a .605 OPS in 473 games from 2011-2013. Still, it’s sad to see him go out collecting dust on a bench.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.