Another loss Thursday night for the Mariners at Safeco Field began the way so many other contests have this season. Ichiro reached base on...
Another loss Thursday night for the Mariners at Safeco Field began the way so many other contests have this season.
Ichiro reached base on his 176th single of the season and the 1,800th hit of his career. The significance was hard to miss, given how it came the same day The Seattle Times quoted a Mariners clubhouse insider saying animosity from some teammates was so great he feared Ichiro would be attacked.
Both manager Jim Riggleman and closer J.J. Putz said before the team’s 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels that they could not recall any specific incidents of threats against Ichiro or team meetings because of it. The clubhouse insider had indicated that a meeting was held to discuss grumbling about Ichiro earlier this season, as well as in May 2007.
The source did not indicate whether Ichiro’s name was specifically brought up in front of the team, or whether the issue of internal bickering was dealt with in more general terms. He did say that former manager John McLaren and his staff were forced to act this season after a player was overheard talking about Ichiro and wanting to “knock him out.”
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“I’ve had talks with everybody on the team, at some time or another, about something in their game — whether it’s a pitcher or whether it’s a position player,” Riggleman said. “Almost everybody on the team, at some time or another, I’ve said ‘I’d like to see you do a little more of this, a little less of that.’
“Some of that is based on vibes you’re getting from the team, that maybe they feel like somebody should do more of this or more of that. And you’re somewhat in agreement. You try to nip it in the bud. You don’t want the sniping. And I’ve talked about it with just about everybody on the team at one time or another. But has there been a meeting to address that? No.”
Putz told reporters: “People have a lot of differences of opinion on a lot of things, but to say something like that in the paper and not fess up as to who it is, whoever said it is a coward.”
Ichiro did not comment, but was apparently told some players had a problem because of a perceived “selfish” style of play.
The insider, who defended Ichiro’s preparation and results, said: “I just can’t believe the number of guys who really dislike him. It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him.”
The day after McLaren’s firing in June, he told the media: “I think there’s a little tension and friction in there, a little jealousy. That’s for those guys to work out on their own. We tried to and we weren’t very successful. I think they have to do that on their own.”
Riggleman on Thursday suggested pitchers might be among those who have a problem with Ichiro.
“We’ve lost so many games, so these types of things surface,” Riggleman said. “When the ship is sinking, the rats are the first ones off. They’re the ones scavenging everything on the ship when it’s going good, but when it’s sinking they’re the first ones off.”
For the record
vs. AL West: 19-35
vs. L.A.: 5-14
vs. Oakland: 6-10
vs. Texas: 8-11
vs. AL East: 15-29
vs. AL Cent.: 15-28
vs. NL: 9-9
vs. LHP: 19-30
vs. RHP: 39-71
Extra inn.: 5-7
Thursday’s crowd: 16,939
Season total: 2,253,575
Biggest crowd: 46,334 (March 31)
Smallest crowd: 15,818 (May 6)
Average (78 dates): 28,891
2007 average (78 dates): 32,845