The Nationals have been on a home run binge in Seattle against the Mariners. On Friday, against AL Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez, they slugged six of them. Jayson Werth added another on Saturday, and the Nats clubbed three of them on Sunday.
Bryce Harper hit two of them, both solo shots off of Hisashi Iwakuma. It marked his first multi-homer game of 2014, the fifth of his career, and his first since April 20, 2013. The first of his two home runs on Sunday was a no-doubter that ricocheted off of the window of the stadium club at Safeco Field.
Harper finishes out the month of August with seven home runs after entering the month with all of three on the season. The surge comes only weeks after many speculated that Harper could have been demoted to Triple-A.
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?