Ryan Dempster almost certainly to get a suspension today

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It’s taken Major League Baseball a good while to decide on punishment — or not — for Ryan Dempster following his clearly intentional plunking of Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night. But Joel Sherman reports that it’s gonna happen today:

 

Again, if they don’t suspend Dempster they are declaring open season on A-Rod and are giving every pitcher who intentionally throws at a batter a solid defense against discipline. What’s more, the league would give A-Rod and his attorneys ammo for their “MLB is out to get us” talking points. The league may not like Rodriguez all that much, but suspending Dempster is the only smart play here.

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?