Another spring cliche: “we want to run more”

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“Best shape of his life” is so last month.  “I’m just working on stuff, just trying to get my work in,” is old hat.  The new one — and it may not be new; I’m just noticing it now —  is “we’re gonna run some more.”  The Royals are saying it. The Pirates are saying it too:

One of the stated objectives for the Pirates during spring training has been to run more.

Whether it be a straight steal, taking off after a pitch hits the dirt or not breaking stride and going from first to third on a base hit to the outfield, manager Clint Hurdle has said — numerous times — this edition of the Pirates will put a heavy emphasis on taking extra bases.

And of course, this is accompanied by the essential “but we’re gonna run smart,” and “we’re gonna pick our spots” talk.  Which, when the team only has a few dozen stolen bases in August, will provide the out for the manager when he’s asked whatever happened to the running game.

Notice you never hear good teams talking about wanting to run more?  Notice how you never hear anyone talking about how they’re “gonna hit more homers” or “we’re gonna strike out more guys”?  Stolen bases, like those things, are just as much a function of talent, but for some reason no one ever scoffs at the “we’re gonna run more” comments like they would at similar comments about home runs and strikeouts.

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?