Ichiro Suzuki, 38, had spent his whole big league career with Seattle before being traded to the Yankees on Monday. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this year. Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every season until dipping last year.
SEATTLE — Ichiro Suzuki is headed to a new team and, after all these years, maybe a shot at playing in the World Series.
The New York Yankees acquired the star outfielder from the Seattle Mariners in a trade Monday for two young pitchers.
“I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins,” he said. “It’s hard to contain my excitement for that reason.”
The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place Mariners. The trade was announced a few hours before the Yankees played at Seattle.
Moving from one clubhouse to another, Suzuki started in right field in place of the injured Nick Swisher and batted eighth for New York on Monday night. It was the first time Suzuki started a game batting anywhere other than the top three spots in the lineup.
Fans at Safeco Field gave Suzuki a 45 second standing ovation when he came to bat with one out in the third inning. He doffed his helmet and bowed twice to the crowd before hitting a single and stealing second base.
The Yankees made the trade a few days after learning that speedy outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki will mostly play left field.
“We’re very excited with the caliber of player we are getting. We feel that he brings the speed element. He’s a tremendous hitter. That speed element is what we lost when Gardy had surgery,” Girardi said. “So this is a big day for us.”
Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn since four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams last played.
“No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it’s hard for me to ask for that number.”
Mitchell made his major league debut this season and pitched four games for the Yankees. Farquhar made his big league debut last year with Toronto and was claimed last month on waivers by the Yankees from Oakland.
The 38-year-old Suzuki had spent his whole big league career with Seattle. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this year.
Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every season until dipping last year.
The only thing missing on Suzuki’s resume is an appearance in the World Series, and he may get a chance with the Yankees. Suzuki was the AL MVP and rookie of the year in 2001 after a stellar career in Japan, and the Mariners reached the AL championship series that season before losing to the Yankees. Seattle has not been back to the playoffs since then.
He said he hasn’t played in left field since those 2001 playoffs.
The Yankees certainly hope this trade with the Mariners works out better than the last big deal between the teams. New York sent prized young catcher Jesus Montero to Seattle before the season for All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda, who was later injured and is out for the year.
The Mariners had been in a delicate situation with Suzuki. A long time star and fan favorite, Suzuki’s skills have been eroding. He’s in the final year of a five-year contract, paying $18 million this season. There has been much debate in the Seattle media whether he would be back next year with Seattle, a team that is rebuilding with young talent.
Suzuki put an end to the speculation when he approached management around the All-Star break and asked to be traded.
“Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached (team president) Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him,” said Howard Lincoln, the team’s CEO. “Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop.”
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has long admired Suzuki, saying, “he’s been consistent throughout his career.”
“They’re been a lot of guys that have come here over the years, starting my first year with Cecil Fielder,” he added. “It’s been unexpected, sort of out of the blue. That’s why you don’t ever listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable.”
Said Suzuki about playing with Jeter: “I noticed that he’s not only a guy who has performed for a long time but consistently performed for a long time. And for a team that has the highest expectations of demand to win. To do what he has done there makes me see that he’s exceptional, not just potential wise as a talent but also as a human being.”
Suzuki, usually stoic on and off the field, became emotional at times during the news conference, especially when talking about his admiration for the Mariners fans.
“When I think about this long period, it is difficult to express precisely my feeling,” Suzuki said of his time in Seattle. “When I imagined taking off a Seattle Mariners uniform, I was overcome with sadness. That made it a very difficult decision to make.”
Tigers acquire Infante, Sanchez from Marlins
DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers made another aggressive move Monday, acquiring second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez from Miami in exchange for 21-year-old righty Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.
The deal, which also includes a swap of 2013 draft picks, gives the Tigers a likely solution to their season-long problems at second base and adds another experienced arm to their starting rotation.
The trade underscores Detroit’s desire to win now after signing slugger Prince Fielder in the offseason. Turner was considered the Tigers’ top pitching prospect and earned his first major league win Sunday.
“We gave up a lot,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “It hurts to do what we did.”
Miami also receives catcher Rob Brantley and left-hander Brian Flynn in the deal.
Detroit is coming off a three-game sweep of Chicago that propelled them into first place in the AL Central. The Tigers lead the White Sox by 1½ games, but it took them a while to come around following a first-half funk. Detroit has used Ryan Raburn (.172 average), Ramon Santiago (.216) and Danny Worth (.215) at second base.
Now Infante arrives after hitting .287 with 10 stolen bases for the Marlins this year. It’s his second tour of duty with Detroit. He played there from 2002-07 before the Tigers traded him.
“I am happy to go to Detroit,” Infante said through a translator. “I know Detroit, they are in first place. I am happy to go back and hopefully do good there.”
The 28-year-old Sanchez was 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA for Miami this year. Sanchez threw a no-hitter at 22 and has shown flashes of the ability that had him touted as a top young talent. But he’s had trouble staying healthy over a full season and has won more than 10 games only twice in his seven big league seasons.
“It’s a new era for me, a new opportunity for a new team,” Sanchez said. “I’m so glad for the opportunity to be with the Marlins for a while.”
The Tigers designated minor league left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz for assignment.
Detroit is loading up for the stretch run, hoping to win a second straight division title.
“We are sending them to a fun place,” Marlins president Larry Beinfest said. “They’re in first place, we wish we were and we’re not, and we needed to realize that.”
Turner is 1-1 with an 8.03 ERA this year, but his stock remained high after he contributed a solid start Sunday in a win over the White Sox. He’s expected to report to Triple-A New Orleans, but might not be there for long.
“Jacob Turner is very well known throughout the game, one of the top prospects,” Beinfest said. “We’ve known about him for quite some time and watched him of late. This is a tough get, to get a major league-ready starter is probably the toughest thing to acquire in the game.”
Dombrowski said the Tigers could afford to trade Turner because of some other young pitchers in their organization. Drew Smyly is 4-3 with a 4.42 ERA with Detroit this year, although he’s out now with a strained muscle in his right side. Left-hander Casey Crosby also made three starts this year for the Tigers.
“We do have a little bit of depth in that area,” Dombrowski said.
Sanchez moves into the rotation spot filled by Smyly and Turner. Wade LeBlanc may start in Sanchez’s spot for Miami.
It’s a difficult trade for the Marlins, who added star shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitcher Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell in the offseason and are playing in a new ballpark. Miami was 44-51 entering Monday night’s game.
“We’re disappointed in the club’s performance,” Beinfest said. “We made our moves this winter, came out of spring training, and everyone’s expectations, and rightfully so, that we’d be in a different position today. The current team is really not in contention, at a tenuous spot at best, and I think it was time to restructure.”
Detroit, meanwhile, has played better lately, and that gave Dombrowski a chance to zero in on a couple specific needs instead of having to overhaul the roster.
“We felt all along that we had a club that was a good club,” he said. “What you hope to do is identify a specific position or two.”
The teams are also trading competitive balance lottery picks. Detroit receives one between next year’s first and second rounds from Miami, while the Marlins get one between rounds two and three from the Tigers. It’s the first time baseball draft picks have been traded, which is allowable on a limited basis under the new collective bargaining agreement.