Ichiro's troublesome right calf won't keep him off the opening day roster or out of the opening day starting lineup.

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It was like he’d never left. Well, there are a few more grays in his close-cropped hair now. But there was an odd feeling of deja vu, watching Ichiro sit in front of the same locker in the home clubhouse at Safeco Field, meticulously preparing a cadre of shiny black baseball bats in anticipation for the 2018 season and his return to the team where he became a star.

When he’s announced in the Mariners’ starting lineup on Thursday night for the opening-day festivities, running down the red carpet from the outfield and getting a standing ovation from an expected sellout crowd, it will be oddly surreal.

Manager Scott Servais confirmed that the Mariners had set their opening-day 25-man roster and Ichiro was on there and not on the disabled list because of a bothersome right calf.  The Mariners optioned infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter to Class AAA Tacoma on Wednesday to finalize that last spot.

“It was a crazy spring for him, getting in late and having a little setback with the calf injury,” Servais said. “But I think he’s showed us enough in the last couple of days that he can get out there and run around and hopefully help us out a little bit.”


And he will be in the starting lineup, batting ninth and playing left field. Servais listed his opening-day lineup.

  1. Dee Gordon, CF
  2. Jean Segura, SS
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Nelson Cruz, DH
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B
  6. Mitch Haniger, RF
  7. Ryon Healy, 1B
  8. Mike Zunino, C
  9. Ichiro, LF

Felix Hernandez, P

Ichiro showed enough in five innings of a minor league game on Monday, seven innings of a Cactus League game on Tuesday and Wednesday’s workout in Seattle for the Mariners to be comfortable enough to keep him on the active roster.

“Like I said when we brought him in, he’ll hit at the bottom of the lineup and he’s here to help in a number of different ways,” Servais said. “Obviously, he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow night.”

If it had been a younger player without the resume in a similar situation, they would not be starting or even on the roster.

“That played heavily into the decision, his track record and what he’s done throughout his career,” Servais said. “You have to trust the player.”

Ichiro was thankful to not start the season the disabled list.

“When I got hurt, the whole plan was just so I could be ready for opening day,” he said through interpreter Allen Turner. “I feel like I barely snuck in. It was a close one, but I’m glad I was able to get to this point to get ready.”

As for the lack of at-bats in the spring — he went 0-for-10 with two walks and five strikeouts in five Cactus League games — he was philosophical.

“Spring Training is not how many at-bats you get,” he said. “Sometimes you could get 100 at-bats and not be ready. So it’s definitely not how many you get. I’m just want to use the experience I have. Obviously, I want to do well for the team and live up to expectations.”

He doesn’t believe the calf will be an issue in the field. But admitted that he was protecting it in those final games.

“Until yesterday, I was just cautious,” he said. “I could have gone 100 percent, but I tried to be careful and make sure I didn’t do anything that would affect anything. But I do feel I’m ready. There’s nothing wrong with what I have now. Everything is good.”

The off-day workout and being back in Seattle made the 44-year-old feel nostalgic.

“Obviously being out there on the field is one thing, but just driving from my house to the stadium, just the views that I remember, it’s just an awesome thing  that I’m here. I’m just so happy,” he said.  “Right now, the dreams that I have, one of them came true. That’s how I feel today.”

And tomorrow when he’s announced or steps to the plate?

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m just excited to see what happens tomorrow. I’ll be interested to see what happens.”


Besides optioning Motter to Tacoma, the Mariners had to make other moves to finalize their 25-man. Right-handed pitcher Casey Lawrence had his contract selected from Class AAA Tacoma and was added to the 40-man and 25-man roster. Right-handers David Phelps (elbow surgery) and Erasmo Ramirez (right lat strain) and outfielder Ben Gamel (oblique strain) were all placed on the 10-day disabled list.