Gary Sheffield is taking calls

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Ever since his famous falling out with Scott Boras, Gary Sheffield has acted as his own agent.  He informed the Globe’s Pete Abraham this morning that four teams have contacted him with interest for 2010.

Sheffield thinks he can still play the field a bit, and he seems to think that he can hang around for the 311 hits he needs to reach 3000.  Neither of those things are the least bit likely, but he could certainly be useful as a DH or pinch hitter as long as he’s realistic about his asking price.  I mean, he’s no less useful than Ken Griffey. At least if you keep the marketing and P.R. out of it.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?