Ichiro lands on 15-day DL
SEATTLE -- Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki is being treated for a bleeding ulcer and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday, sending Seattle into Opening Day minus one of baseball's best players.
The Mariners said the ulcer is no longer bleeding. Doctors have restricted the 35-year-old outfielder's activity but are optimistic he'll be ready to play when he's eligible to come off the DL on April 15.
Suzuki played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic. He complained of severe fatigue earlier this week and missed Seattle's final three spring training games in Arizona, and was diagnosed with the ulcer -- a relatively rare condition for an athlete -- after seeing doctors Thursday.
"I know how much [Ichiro] cares. This is the first time in eight years he's been on the DL," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said Friday night in Las Vegas before the team opened a two-game weekend set against Colorado. "Every indication is that it will be 15 days. We'll see how he is after that."
The All-Star right fielder didn't accompany the team to Las Vegas, instead staying in Arizona and having a light workout at their spring training complex in Peoria on Friday. Seattle opens the season Monday at Minnesota.
"It was a very difficult decision to place Ichiro on the disabled list, especially since we know what a fierce competitor he is and how important it is to him to help the team," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "However, we determined it was in both his best interest, and the best interest of the club, to place him on the DL at this time."
It's the first time in his major league career Suzuki has been on the disabled list. He's been remarkably healthy since arriving in Seattle in 2001, missing just 16 games in his eight-year career and only three games in the last five seasons. Suzuki had played in 197 consecutive games.
The move was retroactive to March 31, meaning Suzuki won't be eligible to come off the disabled list until the second week of the season when Seattle is at home. Wakamatsu said Friday night that either Franklin Gutierrez or Endy Chavez will take over the leadoff spot in the batting order and that a variety of players could be used in right, including Ken Griffey Jr.
"It's unfortunate, but conversely, it is important for him to get healthy," Griffey said Friday night. "We'd rather see him as healthy as possible."
Suzuki didn't arrive at Mariners spring training until March 26, after leading Japan to a second consecutive WBC title. The high pressure of playing in the WBC combined with the expectations from his home country made the championship hugely satisfying.
"The expectation from the people of Japan was incomparable this time. So to become champions in that situation is something that has a lot of meaning for me and what kind of emotions and expectations the Japanese players played upon is something you guys here can't imagine," Suzuki said through a translator when he arrived in Arizona. "That's how much was riding on this. Although three years ago was very fulfilling ... it's incomparable how much more fulfilling it was this time."
Suzuki hit .273 for Japan in the WBC, playing in nine games, including his game-winning two-run single in the 10th inning of the championship game to give Japan a 5-3 win over Korea. In limited spring training at-bats, Suzuki went 5-for-12.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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