Ichiro compares being a free agent to being a puppy in a pet shop

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Marlins reserve outfielder Ichiro Suzuki used an interesting analogy to describe what it was like to be a free agent during the off-season. Via Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal:

“That must be what it feels like to be a puppy at a pet shop,” Ichiro explained in his unique style. “Amongst all the cute little puppies jumping and tumbling for prospective owners, there’s one who’s a little older, a little more mature, who keeps getting passed over for the more adorable ones. When someone finally comes along and points a finger at him, an undying loyalty is born.”

The analogy is cute, but it’s also kind of sad if to think of adult athletes in the same way as caged animals. Then again, given the substandard conditions minor leaguers face and the lack of choices available to players who have not yet reached arbitration eligibility, the analogy may not be too far off.

Ichiro signed with the Marlins on a one-year, $2 million deal in January. Over the last two seasons with the Yankees, he batted .271/.308/.341 with eight home runs, 57 RBI, and 35 stolen bases in 940 plate appearances.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.