Ichiro ready to play with Mariners
Ichiro was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his major league career on April 3 with a bleeding ulcer, leaving the Mariners without one of their best players for the start of the season.
Seattle responded by winning five of seven on its opening road trip and hosts the Angels on Tuesday at Safeco Field, with Ichiro likely to be activated before the Mariners' second home game.
"In my mind, I'm playing on Wednesday," Ichiro said before the Mariners worked out at their ballpark on Monday.
The All-Star outfielder said he felt so good it was "annoying" him.
"Up to this point, I've been able to play baseball with my health. And I took it for granted," Ichiro said through a translator. "Now, I truly understand the joy of playing while healthy."
Ichiro had been remarkably healthy since arriving in Seattle in 2001, missing just 16 games before this year and only three games in the previous five seasons. He had played in 197 consecutive games.
Ichiro said he still has to get a final blood test. And manager Don Wakamatsu said the team still wanted to see how Ichiro looked in batting practice Monday -- and he looked normal, spraying line drives. But Wakamatsu added that it looked as if Ichiro would be would be able to return Wednesday.
"It's nice to have the whole team back," Wakamatsu said before Ichiro was the first Mariner to step into the batting cage Monday.
Ichiro has been an All-Star in all eight of his Mariners seasons and has eight Gold Gloves. Last year, when he tied with Boston's Dustin Pedroia for the major league lead with 213 hits, Ichiro set the modern record with his eighth consecutive 200-hit season. Willie Keeler (1894-1901) is the only other major leaguer with eight straight 200-hit years.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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