Yusei Kikuchi will be playing this season with a heavy heart. On Saturday, he was notified that this father, Yuji, had passed away after a protracted battle with cancer.

The Mariners’ rookie left-hander released a statement about notifying the media father’s death and his intention of dedicating his season to him. Kikuchi will not return to Japan for his father’s funeral, but instead remain with the team and continue to pitch. He will start on Thursday in Chicago.

Here’s his statement

“I learned today that my father, Yuji Kikuchi, passed away following a long and valiant battle with cancer.

During my recent visit to Japan, my father expressed his desire for me to remain focused on baseball and to help my team win. Although difficult, I will honor his wishes and dedicate the rest of this season to him. 

This statement will be my only comment on this matter, but I will remain available to answer baseball questions beginning tomorrow, Sunday, March 31.

Thank you for respecting the love and honor we shared for my father, and our request for privacy moving forward.”

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–       Yusei Kikuchi