Justin Verlander would have no problem with gay teammate

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In an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello today Justin Verlander made it clear he’d have no problem playing alongside a gay teammate, saying:

I wouldn’t mind it. … We got 25 guys, it’s a family, and our goal is to win a World Series. What your sexual orientation is, I don’t see how that affects the ultimate goal of our family.

Asked if there are gay players in MLB currently and whether they should feel comfortable coming out, Verlander said:

I’m sure there are. I think as with any sport, a gay player would be hesitant to come out, but the sheer number says there absolutely is. Yeah, I don’t see why not, given the right situation, and a team that’s a family atmosphere, and I feel like we have that atmosphere here. I don’t think one of our players would be scared to come out.

Verlander’s comments about the team’s “family atmosphere” potentially making a gay player comfortable is interesting because his new Tigers teammate, Torii Hunter, recently said that having a gay teammate would be “difficult and uncomfortable” due to his religious beliefs (and then said he was misquoted).

Whatever the case: Good on ya, Justin.

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?