Tommy John: Billy Martin was a bigot

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Tommy John was on the Dan Patrick Show today and had some interesting things about the two most famous managers he played for: Billy Martin and Tommy Lasorda.

Martin, John says, a great manager but he “was not a nice person,” he was a bigot and that he gave his players anxiety about coming to the park each day. Lasorda: maybe not the best Xs and Os manager ever — he credits Gene Mauch with being a great tactician — but says Lasorda was a master motivator who inspired his players:

Obviously both Martin and Lasorda had great success as big league managers. But it’s not too hard to pick which one you’d rather have in charge of your club.

Bonus: John talking about his namesake surgery:

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?