Chad Qualls’ foot injury feels like a “knife was going at the back of my heel”

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Chad Qualls was unavailable to pitch yesterday because of a foot injury, which the Phillies reliever described as like a “knife was going at the back of my heel.”

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Qualls actually pitched through that pain Saturday, throwing a scoreless inning against the Pirates, but sat out yesterday’s game and is now scheduled to see a doctor back in Philadelphia.

One of Qualls’ biggest strengths is durability and he apparently doesn’t know how this injury occurred, but it caused the Phillies to use Kyle Kendrick on consecutive days for the first time in his career and could put a lot of stress on a bullpen that’s already without Jose Contreras.

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?