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07/13/07 10:50 PM ET
Notes: Ichiro signing shows commitment
Players and fans excited to see club lock in its superstar
By Patrick Brown / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Ichiro Suzuki's contract extension signified more than his future in Seattle. It showed other players and fans the Mariners' commitment to keeping a good team on the field. The money spent on Seattle's seven-time All-Star, around $90 million for five years, is well spent, according to players, coaches and even fans. "I can't imagine him not being out in center field," said manager John McLaren. "What I like about it is you don't see one guy stay with one organization his whole career. I like that old-school thought." There's plenty of that old-school thought floating around the Mariners clubhouse, whether by a rookie or a veteran. Ryan Feierabend, one of the Mariners' rookie pitchers who have filled in for Horacio Ramirez as he continues his rehab assignment, said it's encouraging to see Seattle retaining players who started their career with the Mariners. "To me, it shows that the team is committed to him, and he is committed to the team," Feierabend said. "I'm coming up in an organization where the team wants to keep guys that start with them, so that's a good thing from the rookie standpoint." That sentiment also resonates with Mariners veterans like left fielder Raul Ibanez, who said Ichiro is "definitely worth it." "I think this organization has always been committed to winning and to signing the best players," Ibanez said. "Ichiro is the franchise guy; he's the face of the Mariners. He's a good player, and I think it's a great testament not just to his talent and ability, but the part that I respect the most about him is his work ethic and his preparation." Ichiro has impressed nearly everyone with the way he conducts himself, both on and off the field. He was in the midst of a contract year, breaking club records and challenging for the batting title. But you'd never know it. "He's been such a professional, you couldn't tell if it was his contract year or not," McLaren said. "He's happy, he's having fun, he's playing hard and he prepares like he does, like anybody prepares in baseball." Well, maybe not just anybody. Although when players see how he prepares for games, they take note. With the results he gets, why wouldn't all athletes follow suit? "He prepares better than anyone I've ever played with," Ibanez said. "I've actually taken a page out of his book. For day games, we don't hit outside, but he goes out there and runs, and does a lot of extra stuff. Now on day games, he's made me a better player because I go do that." Mariners fans, too, were happy with the contract extension, relieved to see one of their favorite players stay in the Emerald City. "I did not want him playing against us," said Dave Sisler of Bothell, Wash. "The guy is fun to watch. You never know what he's going to do." Sisler also said the Mariners didn't overspend on Ichiro, especially considering what he brings to team. Jan Sessions of Bellevue, Wash., shared that opinion. "I think because he's stuck with us for such a long time, and he's been really consistent, he's a good role model for the players that are coming up," she said. "He's a player that's been with us for longer than most on our team. I really don't think they [overspent]." Most of the fans at Friday's game seemed to echo that sentiment, giving Ichiro a standing ovation prior to its start. He acknowledged by tipping his cap, and giving a slight bow. Trivia time: Prior to Friday's game against the Tigers, the Mariners had a nine-game winning streak at Safeco Field, the second longest such streak in club history. What is the club record? See the answer below. Pitching update: Ramirez may reenter the rotation as early as Monday, according to McLaren. Ramirez has been on the disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis. The next step would likely be to send Feierabend back to Triple-A Tacoma, but McLaren said that's just one of the options being explored. Reliever Mark Lowe threw another rehab inning on Thursday night, tossing 13 pitches, and will report to the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, the Mariners' Double-A affiliate, for further workouts. "If he keeps it up, he'll be coming back soon," McLaren said. The bullpen, which has been incredibly strong this season by going 13-2 with 13 saves and a 3.27 ERA since June 2, would likely become even better with the return of Lowe. "When you start dealing with strength, it's only going to make us better," McLaren said. If we have to send somebody out, that means we'll have more insurance down below. It's a good sign, and you don't like to see anybody out, but that's the nature of the game and we're anxious to get Mark Lowe back." Huber hits a bump: Reliever Jon Huber experienced a setback in his rehab appearance on Sunday, and he had an MRI exam on his right elbow on Friday after experiencing some pain. McLaren said, though, he didn't think the discomfort was much to worry about, but he hadn't gotten word on the MRI results. He did talk of possibly decreasing his pitch count during rehab outings. And the answer is: The club record for the most consecutive wins at home is 11, set from May 20-June 8, 2001. On deck: The Mariners host the Tigers in the third game of the four-game set on Saturday night with right-hander Miguel Batista (8-7, 4.54 ERA) facing off against lefty Kenny Rogers (3-0, 1.04). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Patrick Brown is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.