The former Mariners outfielder has received a warm welcome from New York fans.
NEW YORK — A relaxed Ichiro chatted with Seattle media members before Friday’s game at Yankee Stadium. And the first thing he did was gesture and say, “See, just one locker.”
Ichiro had two in Seattle, as many veterans do, but he had correctly predicted he would have just one in New York. He noted, however, that there is a second locker in another area of the clubhouse.
Ichiro said, through interpreter Allen Turner, it’s been “a pretty easy adjustment” playing for the Yankees.
“Baseball aspects, you just focus on the game, so you can adjust naturally, because you’re on a team that’s in contention, and you just do what you do as a baseball player.”
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Ichiro has a hit in all 10 games he’s played with the Yankees, including Friday’s game — but just one hit in each, which left his average with New York at .250 (10 for 40).
Ichiro did have one great moment on July 30, when he connected for his first Yankees homer in the seventh inning off Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez. It was also the 100th homer of his MLB career, and fans at Yankee Stadium gave him a tremendous reception.
“I don’t know if it was because it was the first home run as a Yankee, or because it was my 100th home run, but I don’t think I’ve ever received that kind of ovation from the fans, with that many and that loud,” he said. “Maybe it was the first time ever in my career I received something that big.”
Asked if he’s followed the Mariners’ hot streak since he left, he said: “I’ve been so concentrated on what I’m doing, I haven’t really followed. I’ve heard they’re doing well, but I don’t know how they’ve won. If there was 30 hours in one day, I could check on that kind of stuff. Right now, I’m just concentrating on what I need to do.”
On playing for the Yankees, he said, “Every day, I’m able to feel the main goal of this team, which is to win. As a baseball player who wants to do the best and compete, it really makes me happy to be part of that.”
And his thoughts on wearing Yankee pinstripes: “There’s practically everything in this clubhouse, but there’s not a mirror long enough I can see my whole body. I haven’t really gotten to see what I look like.”
• Manager Eric Wedge said he recognizes the importance of this tough road trip as a measuring stick for his streaking ballclub — they go to Baltimore and Anaheim next — but doesn’t want his players looking ahead.
“For me, it just starts with tonight,” he said. “I don’t want them to get caught up in thinking about the whole road trip. I want them to focus on tonight, come out here and get off to a good start.”
• Here’s Jason Vargas’ reaction to being named AL Pitcher of the Month for his 5-0, 1.64 earned-run average showing: “It was cool. There are a lot of pitchers who have pitched well. To be the one they named pitcher of the month is pretty cool. It’s nice to be recognized. I feel there’s been stretches I’ve had that were just as good as anybody. To have that award and have them acknowledge it is nice.”
And here’s Wedge on the same topic: “There’s only six months. To be recognized as the best pitcher for that particular month, it’s a great accomplishment.”
• Michael Saunders was out of the lineup Friday with some leg stiffness, but Wedge said he would be back in Saturday.