Mar­lins’ Ichiro Suzuki pitches in­ning in a re­lief ap­pear­ance

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOR­DAN HALL

Ichiro Suzuki has ac­com­plished quite a bit in his ma­jor league ca­reer.

Now he can cross pitch­ing off the list.

Suzuki hit 142 kph (88 miles per hour) and in­duced a swing and miss with a break­ing pitch dur­ing a one-in­ning re­lief ap­pear­ance for the Mi­ami Mar­lins Sun­day in their reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale against the Philadelphia Phillies, a 7-2 loss.

Af­ter his in­ning, Suzuki gained a whole new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for pitch­ers.

“I can’t say it was fun, but I’ll never talk bad about a pitcher again,” Suzuki said through an in­ter­preter while laugh­ing.

The 10-time out­field Gold Glove Award win­ner had never pitched in a ma­jor league game be­fore en­ter­ing for the bot­tom of the eighth in­ning. He al­lowed a lead­off dou­ble to Odubel Her­rera, who later scored on a dou­ble to deep right by Dar­nell Sweeney. Af­ter throw­ing mostly fast­balls to the first few hit­ters, Ichiro mixed in an up­per-70s break­ing pitch to Freddy Galvis, in­duc­ing an awk­ward whiff with his first one.

“I thought my fast­ball was go­ing to be my best pitch, but it was my slider,” Suzuki, who turns 42 years old on Oct. 22, said. “I was shocked that my pitch.”

Suzuki fin­ished al­low­ing one run on two hits with a ground out and two fly outs.

Suzuki, a 15-year big league vet­eran, fin­ished this sea­son with 2,935 ma­jor league hits and another 1,278 hits in nine pro­fes­sional sea­sons with the Orix Blue Wave in Ja­pan.

He and Mar­lins man­ager Dan Jen­nings had been talk­ing about get­ting Suzuki on the mound for about a month. Af­ter see­ing video of Suzuki pitch­ing in an All-Star Game in Ja­pan, Jen­nings de­cided it was some­thing he’d like to do near the end of the sea­son.

“We talked about the sit­u­a­tion had to be right,” Jen­nings said. “And so his last at-bat, he’s on deck and looks down at me and says, ‘You think­ing about it?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, it’s done, you’re in, you got it.’ And you know what, he’s earned that be­cause of who he is and the player and the ca­reer that he’s had.”

Suzuki walked off to ap­plause from the Philadelphia crowd. His team­mate Dee Gor­don also had a spe­cial day, win­ning the NL bat­ting ti­tle over Washington’s Bryce Harper. Suzuki has two bat­ting crowns of his own — both in the Amer­i­can League.

fast­ball wasn’t my best

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