Former No. 1 overall pick Kris Benson retires

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From the hardly shocking news department: Kris Benson told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com that he has decided to retire.

“I’m done,” the 36-year-old said by phone from his home outside Atlanta. “I decided pretty much after this past season that I wasn’t going to pursue anything. I’ve been putting way too much into it and not getting enough out of it, as far as the rehab, working out, training, and then not getting the type of results I expect from myself.”

Benson attempted yet another comeback last season as a member of the Diamondbacks, posting a 5.14 ERA over three starts, but didn’t make another appearance in the big leagues after the final week of April due to shoulder problems. The former 1996 No. 1 overall pick has tossed just 36 1/3 innings at the major league level since 2006.

Benson wraps up his career with a 70-75 record to go along with a 4.42 ERA over parts of nine major league seasons between the Pirates, Mets, Orioles, Rangers and Diamondbacks.

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?