Paul Konerko sidelined Sunday because of stiff neck

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White Sox slugger Paul Konerko hit his 400th career homer last week and holds a .383/.444/.679 batting line in 90 plate appearances this season.

So we’ll call Sunday a well-earned day of rest.

According to Sahadev Sharma of ESPN Chicago, the first baseman was scratched from the lineup this afternoon due to neck stiffness. It’s not a serious issue, but the White Sox didn’t want to push it.

“He’s had it the past couple days, but played through it,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. “Today it’s just more of being cautious so nothing happens.”

Adam Dunn is covering first base and Dayan Viciedo is DHing in Sunday’s series finale with Boston.

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?