Bombs away on Tuesday

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Update – And David Ross makes it five by homering twice against the Padres in San Diego. That’s as many homers as he had in 135 at-bats since the beginning of 2010.

There had been just 22 multihomer games in the first 26 days of the 2011 season, but already Tuesday evening there have been four, including a couple by some pretty unusual names.

Cleveland’s Jack Hannahan homered twice off Luke Hochevar in a win over the Royals. He was the only one of the four players to have already hit at least two homers this season, and he had exactly two. The first homer gave him 100 RBI for his career. He now has 20 homers in 919 lifetime at-bats.

Washington’s Wilson Ramos hit his first two homers of the season. He entered with a fine .341 average in 41 at-bats this year, but he had hit just one homer in 120 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Todd Helton turned back the clock in Chicago, taking James Russell deep twice. The big games came as he was hitting third for the first time this year. He moved up because Carlos Gonzalez was given the day off. It was his first two-homer game since Aug. 7, 2007.

The remaining two-homer guy as of 10 p.m. EDT was Toronto’s Adam Lind. Lind turned in a big spring, but he had hit just one homer in 85 regular-season at-bats.

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?