Ichiro singles in first at-bat as Yankees top Mariners

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The Yankees ended their season-high four-game losing streak Monday, but this one was all about Ichiro Suzuki.

Facing his old teammates in the ballpark in which he spent 11 1/2 seasons, Ichiro got a huge ovation in his first at-bat for the Yankees and responded by bowing towards the Safeco Field crowd. He then promptly lined a single to center field and stole second base. It was his lone hit in four at-bats as the Yankees won 4-1.

Ichiro hit eighth and started in right field in his Yankees debut. Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that Ichiro would play mostly left field, but with Nick Swisher still nursing a hip flexor strain, Ichiro was able to start in his traditional spot tonight.

The eighth spot in the order was something new. Ichiro never hit lower than third in 1,844 games for the Mariners. However, given that he came into Monday batting .261/.288/.353 on the season, eighth or ninth is probably where he belongs in the Yankees lineup.

Ichiro also gave up his customary No. 51 and chose to wear No. 31 for the Yankees. No. 51 was Bernie Williams’ number, and while the Bombers haven’t retired it yet, they also haven’t issued it since he ended his career. Ichiro’s new No. 31 is the number Dave Winfield wore for the Yankees.

Taking over for Ichiro in right field for the Mariners tonight was Carlos Peguero. He went 0-for-3 and struck out twice, giving him 12 strikeouts versus just five hits in 24 at-bats for Seattle. The Mariners as a whole had three hits on the night.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.