Meeting with the media before Thursday's game, Ichiro, GM Jerry Dipoto and chairman John Stanton described the reasoning behind Ichiro moving off the field this season and what his role will be going forward.
(So what is different today for you) Only thing is not being able to be in the dugout.
(How do you feel about all of this?) It’s been two and a half months since I’ve come back and this is the happiest I’ve been in the 18-year career I’ve had. The past two months have been the happiest I’ve been. I knew one day that the day would come when I would have to walk away. But the Mariners have given me this opportunity to stay on. Obviously with my teammate and how great they’ve been and how much they mean to me and how much I want to help is the reason I wanted to stay on and help in any way I can.
(What about these past two months has set it apart?) I said it in the press conference when I first came back that I get to be back in a town that I love and be able to come back and when I did the teammates that I had they have been great and they are … really in a friendly way they are obviously younger and I guess you could call them almost cute kids. They’ve been very warm and it’s been a great situation. I have a manager who has a lot of heart and who cares about the players. I haven’t felt this way. What I feel now is I want to do whatever I can for our manager and I haven’t’ felt that way in a long time to really want to play hard for a human being and he’s definitely one of them. Those are the reasons why I’ve’ had happy times here.
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(What is your role going forward?) My title has changed but from the outside. I think you’re just not going got see me in the dugout during games. I want to be able to help in any way I can. I’m not going to be the one going up to guys saying this or that. I’ll be there for anybody. If I know the answer I’m there in any way for them. I’m going to be practicing and hitting on the field and doing all of that. During the game I will be doing the same preparations I’ve been doing the entire time. Nothing is going to change for me that I did as a player. But I can’t say for certain that maybe I won’t put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout.
(What scenario would it to take for you to announce you’ve retired or what scenario would it take to be playing again?) When I start using a cane, that’s a time that I think I should retire.
(Why is it important to continue work you’ve always done, batting practice, etc?) I want to be like a researcher or a student of the game or maybe at this age what I can do is prepare myself, train and see what I can do and the work I put in, see what happens to my body and performance. Just see what happens. I want to continue to do that and be able to continue to work and see what I can do.
(Jerry said he thinks he’ll see Ichiro again, do you believe you’ll be playing baseball games next year?) If that opportunity, that chance wasn’t there I don’t think I could be in the situation where I’m at now where I can continue to work and be in this role. Obviously I’m in a different situation now, but I definitely see myself playing again and that’s why I’m going to continue to practice and work to do the things I need to do to continue to get better. It’s hard for me to imagine not playing.
(How much would you like to be playing in those games in Japan next year with the Mariners?) Of course that’s kind of far away but it’s a far goal that I think I can work toward. I can continue to work and have that goal.
(What were emotions yesterday when not many people knew this day was coming but you knew?) My goal as a player has always been even if days are going good or bad or I’m’ happy for frustrated if people around saw how I was that it didn’t matter which was I was, happy or sad or vice versa, that they couldn’t tell what my emotions were that day. Yesterday I wanted it the same way. That’s how I play the game.
(Favorite moment was with Edgar, Griffey, Ichiro in spring training. Don’t take anything for granted. Where did that response come from?) I wanted to tell them, 11 and a half years I was here and the things I went through it was normal. I sit here in front of you guys the media, some media write good things or bad things, I don’t know, but the fact that I see each and every one of your faces, that’s something you don’t realize until you miss it. In the 5 and a half years I was gone, all of those things that are normal and things that you are accustomed to, coming to the ball park, it’s gone. In those 5 and a half years I experienced that. Those are the things I waned to tell my teammates. I wanted to tell them, don’t take things for granted because tomorrow this might be it. So before you lose it, make sure you understand that and allow yourself to experience that and to relish it.
(On meeting George Sisler’s family) Obviously they came from far away and they came because I was close to that number,. But I think they came because they wanted to know what kind of player that I was and they wanted to know what kind of person I was. That is something gi feel very special about is they were able to come up and see me. And obvioulsy through that relationship I was able to go to his grave and show my respects and it’s because of the relationship I have with them.
(Most disappointing that you won’t get to pitch to Shohei Ohtani this weekend?) Yes, No. 1. That’s the definitely the one I wanted to do.
(Certain peace of mind in how this has played out today?) It’s really hard to describe how I’m feeling but when I was told that this was going got take place, and still be able to not waver, not let it affect me. I was still able to go out and do what I do. That’s something I have really worked hard at. I’ve really tried to be that person. I was just really happy I was able to have that mentality and not be up and down and let things affect me to the point where I couldn’t do things. That’s how I feel today.
GM Jerry Dipoto
Chairman John Stanton