Ichiro did more than set an American League record Thursday night with his 41st consecutive stolen base. The first-inning swipe of second...
BOSTON — Ichiro did more than set an American League record Thursday night with his 41st consecutive stolen base.
The first-inning swipe of second base moved Ichiro past Tim Raines on the AL list and left him nine thefts behind Vince Coleman for the major-league record. But Ichiro also made headlines of a different kind earlier in the day, being featured in an ESPN Deportes online item titled “The Samurai of Hitting.”
It was written by Mariners starting pitcher Miguel Batista — who is in his fourth year of doing a weekly blog for the ESPN network’s Spanish-language branch.
“I try to ask the players about the things other people don’t,” Batista said. “I want to know the quirky stuff.”
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Today | @ N.Y. Yankees, 4:05 p.m., FSN | M’s RHP Cha Seung Baek (0-0, 4.22) vs. LHP Kei Igawa (2-1, 6.08).
Saturday | @ N.Y. Yankees, 12:55 p.m., Ch. 13 | M’s Jeff Weaver (0-4, 18.26) vs. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-2, 5.84).
Sunday | @ N.Y. Yankees, 10:05 a.m., FSN | M’s LHP Jarrod Washburn (2-2, 2.88) vs. RHP Darrell Rasner (0-1, 3.86).
Monday | @ N.Y. Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 11 | M’s RHP Miguel Batista (3-2, 6.30) vs. RHP Matt DeSalvo (first start)
Tuesday | @ Detroit, 4:05 p.m., FSN | M’s LHP Horacio Ramirez (2-1, 6.64) vs. TBA.
Ichiro supplied Batista with plenty of that. Batista talked to him about the ritual he goes through before each at-bat, and about what goes through his head when he’s performing.
Curious onlookers stared in amazement throughout the interview, which took place last Tuesday. The Dominican-born Batista sat in the Mariners dugout, microphone in-hand, questioning the Japanese leadoff man with interpreter Ken Barron doing the translation.
There were no tough questions about Ichiro’s contract status — something Ichiro has told the media he won’t talk about the rest of the year — but that’s not the kind of interviewing Batista does.
“He talked about natural talent,” Batista said. “About how not to fight the things that are not offered you talent-wise. At the beginning, he would try to impose things on himself. And when you do that, you fight against what’s not given to you.
“He just decided to do what is comfortable for him,” he added. “It’s about being himself, playing to his style and looking natural out there.”
Batista then offered some of his own, first-hand impressions about Ichiro’s theories.
“A lot of American people don’t understand and don’t realize that you can’t fight against natural talent,” Batista said. “Some people don’t respect that. They want everybody to do the same thing. When I interviewed Gary Sheffield, he told me that. A lot of people wanted him to change what he does.”
Batista said some players, such as Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, give him quizzical looks when he first approaches them for interviews.
“Jeter told me ‘Hey, I don’t ask you to tell me how you play, why should I tell you anything?’ ” Batista said. “And I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask you about how to hit. All I want to know is about how great it must feel to be a captain of the New York Yankees.’ And he was OK with that.”
• Major League Baseball has all but settled the issue of when the Mariners and Cleveland Indians are to play their four makeup games. An announcement is expected in the next day or two, but it looks like single games will be played at Jacobs Field on May 21, June 11 and Aug. 30, while a fourth will be played as part of a Sept. 26 doubleheader at Safeco Field.
The May 21 and June 11 dates had been expected, but the Mariners are not happy with the Aug. 30 contest because it eliminates yet another off-day from the few they have left. They’d have preferred that lone game be made up the day after the regular season ends, if it impacts any playoff races.
So far, their pleas have been unsuccessful.
The Aug. 30 date — situated between a home game against the Angels and a road date in Toronto — forces the Mariners to play a string of 20 consecutive games. And that’s after they’ll be asked to play 23 straight games because of the May 21 makeup affair.
• Plenty of laughter ensued after the sixth inning when Boston’s David Ortiz, caught in a rundown during an inning-ending 4-3-6 double-play, finally gave up and allowed shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to tag him. As Betancourt stepped forward, the burly Ortiz wrapped his arms around him in an embrace.
• The Fenway Park crowd of 37,216 — billed as the “largest since World War II” after some recent seat additions — wasn’t in a good mood during a first inning in which Seattle scored five runs on a series of walks, bloopers and miscues. Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo was booed when he dropped a Betancourt blooper to shallow left that was initially ruled as Lugo’s second error of the inning (it was later changed to a hit).
Left fielder Manny Ramirez did little to brighten the mood when he made a showboating, risky “basket catch” of a Jose Lopez pop-up for the inning’s second out. But the crowd was cheering Ramirez in the eighth inning when his second homer of the game put Boston in the lead for good. It was the 475th blast of Ramirez’s career, tying him with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 27th all-time.
• Thursday night’s makeup game against the Red Sox meant the Mariners faced six different teams in 11 days. They played two series of two games and a pair of one-game affairs during the stretch. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said one-game series tend to disrupt the team’s normal routine more than two-game sets.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
For the record
vs. AL West: 7-5
vs. L.A.: 0-3
vs. Oakland: 4-1
vs. Texas: 3-1
vs. AL East: 1-2
vs. AL Central: 4-4
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 3-2
vs. RHP: 9-9
Extra innings: 0-0