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Ichiro will start in right field for Mariners in Japan Series

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The Mariners and Athletics are in Japan right now in the runup to this week’s two-game regular season series in the Tokyo Dome. The clubs have been playing exhibitions against Japanese teams prior to Wednesday and Thursday’s official contests.

As you likely know, Ichiro — who kinda but not really retired last season — went to camp with the Mariners this year and is on their roster. The unstated but assumed idea is that he will play the two games in Tokyo and then retire, having given a fitting sendoff from both the fans from his native country and the fans for the team with which he had his greatest triumphs in one fell swoop. It’d be hard to script that any better.

Part of that script is going to plan: Mariners manager Scott Servais confirmed today Ichiro Suzuki will be in the starting lineup against the Athletics, likely starting in right field. That’ll be a good reason to wake up at 5:30AM and watch the Japan Series games on ESPN this week.

I wonder, though, what might happen if he rakes in those two games. He, as always, has played it close to the vest, so we don’t know his intentions, but the Mariners, as you know, aren’t going anywhere this year as they rebuild. So it’s not like even a 45-year-old Ichiro would be a drag on their 2019 prospects if he, in fact, wants to play some more.

Can he play? I dunno. Based on what we saw of him last year and the year before, the bat just isn’t there anymore. But based on (a) his physical conditioning; and (b) his arm, it’s not necessarily the case that he’s completely done. I mean, check out this highlight from today’s exhibition game. The guy still has quite the hose:

Gio Gonz√°lez is now a free agent

Gio Gonzalez
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Everyone suspected this would happen and now it has: Gio Gonz√°lez has requested and has been granted his release from his minor league deal with the Yankees. He is a free agent.

Gonz√°lez stood to earn a $3 million salary if the Yankees elect to add him to the 25-man roster, with additional bonuses of $300,000 pending each start he makes after that, but nothing he did at Triple-A merited a callup. He issued 10 runs, six walks, and 19 strikeouts over his first 15 innings in the minors. He fired his agent, Scott Boras, late last week and hired CAA Baseball instead.

No word on whether CAA will be better at convincing anyone to sign a guy who walked six guys in 15 minor league innings to a big league deal than Boras was, frankly. My guess is that Gonz√°lez will be on another minor league deal again soon if he wants to pitch in 2019.