Alfonso Soriano sits, not traded yet

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The Alfonso Soriano Hug Watch is on, but while the aging slugger isn’t in the Cubs lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, it was simply a scheduled day off, according to CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney.

The Cubs have newcomer Junior Lake filling in for Soriano in left field tonight. Lake had been playing center field the last few days, but David DeJesus came off the disabled list today and has reclaimed his old position. Dave Sappelt was sent down to make room for DeJesus.

Soriano was rumored to be headed back to the Bronx with the Yankees on Monday night, but it appears the New York Post jumped the gun there, and even if a trade does get agreed to, Soriano hasn’t committed to waiving his no-trade clause.

“If they get something close, I want to have time to think about it,” Soriano said Tuesday. “But now there’s nothing to think about.”

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?