Ichiro opens up, says he ‘felt desperate’ in worst season

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Ichiro Suzuki, 38, had the worst season of his MLB career in 2011, notching career lows in average (.272), hits (184), on-base (.310) and slugging (.335) as his Seattle Mariners struggled to a 67-95 record and second straight last-place finish in the AL West.

Ichiro talked about his disappointing year with the Nikkan Sports newspaper, and Reuters picked up the story.

As is usually the case with Ichiro, the story out of Japan is far more illuminating than just about anything that ever appears in the US press. Just a matter of being comfortable in your environment, I suppose.

Among the highlights in the story:

  • Ichiro didn’t feel right for much of the season, even in April while racking up an AL-best 39 hits. But he couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and the uncertainty kind of drove him nuts. “I felt desperate last season. That doesn’t happen to me very often. Mental stress is a lot worse than physical stress.”
  • He doesn’t take too kindly to those that suggest his drop-off is simply a natural part of the aging process. “Sometimes I feel I’m getting older, or more sensitive to what they say on TV,” he said. Can you hear the crankiness in his voice? He is getting older! Next thing you know he’ll be telling us all to get off his lawn. Ichiro did follow up the comment with this gem, however:

“Yes my skin gets dry but it’s a lame conclusion to blame everything on age. People are quick to point to age. Those kinds of people don’t interest me. But if you’re going to call yourself a professional, you need to put up results.”

  • Another nugget glossed over in the Reuters story is this: Ichiro has been linked to the general manager’s job at his former Japanese club Orix.

Very interesting. Ichiro’s contract is up after the 2012 season, so I suppose he could be looking for front office gigs back in Japan. But the scuttlebutt is that he’ll be looking for an extension from the Mariners as he chases the 3,000-hit milestone. With 2,428 career MLB hits, he would need to average 190 over the next three seasons to get to 3,000. Unless Ichiro continues to decline, an idea that surely makes him bristle, I’d bet on something getting done, possibly before the end of the 2012 season.

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Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna could “draw a significant ban” for assault allegations

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Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested in Toronto back on May 8 on charges of assault against a woman and he has been on MLB’s administrative leave list ever since — that leave having been extended twice already.

Canadian authorities aren’t revealing any details about the case so as to protect the identity of the accuser and it’s unclear where MLB’s investigation into the matter stands at this point, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports opens his latest column with this note …

Toronto Blue Jays star closer Roberto Osuna’s domestic issue is said by people familiar with the case to be serious and involve allegations of a physical nature, which would draw a significant ban.

Heyman notes that Major League Baseball handed 15-game suspensions to Jeurys Familia and Steven Wright for domestic assault cases where there was no physical abuse — or none proven — and that Aroldis Chapman got 30 games after a police report revealed that he did get physical with the victim and also fired a gun.

It sounds like Osuna could be facing a suspension of at least 20-25 games, given the precedent. Again, though, we don’t have any actual details.

Tyler Clippard has been operating as Toronto’s primary ninth-inning man in Osuna’s absence.