I just walked into the press box at Safeco Field and the left section of the press box is jammed with the Japanes media that cover Ichiro and Kenji Johjima on a daily basis.
Being a “something-is-up” kind of reporter, seeing the Japanese media at the park this early told me something is up.
And sure enough, out there standing near the line in right field, is Ichiro, a trainer and an interpeter.
The Japanese writers are taking it all down. Ichiro jogs. Ichiro jogs a little faster. Ichiro slows down. Ichiro speeds up. Ichiro stretches. Ichiro is stretching his left leg, his right leg, and now both legs and doing something that I really can’t describe. But it hurts just watching.
It must be tough covering one or two players on the team. Meanwhile, Two cameras are whirling away, also following every move Ichiro makes. Film at 11, or later.
As you know, Ichiro has not played in five games because of a sore left calf and is not listed in tonight’s starting lineup. He remains 16 hits shy of the 200 mark, which would make him the first player in MLB history to have at least 200 hits in nine consecutive seasons.
We’ll check with manager Don Wakamatsu in about an hour and get back to you on Ichiro’s up-to-date status.
Meanwhile, first baseman Russell Branyan, who departed Friday night’s game with a sore back, is not in the lineup. Jack Hannahan will make his first start of the season at first.
The pre-game chat with Wak has ended and here’s an update on the Mariners’ walking wounded:
*Ichiro remains day-to-day but participated in pre-game batting practice. The Mariners want to make sure his calf is 100 percent before putting him back in the lineup. They are concerned if he comes back too soon he could miss significantly more time if he reinjures it.
*Third baseman Adrian Beltre is pencilled in to play again next Tuesday night against the Angels.
*Ken Griffey Jr. got the night off to give his knee some rest. He could be back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale.
*First baseman Russell Branyan had an MRI on his back earlier today and he’s listed as day-to-day. He has had various back ailments for much of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners promote Mike Carp from Triple-A Tacoma in the next few days.
— Jim Street