11/06/08 4:00 PM EST
Ichiro snags eighth straight Gold Glove
Mariners outfielder joins third baseman Beltre in fielding honor
By Jim Street / MLB.com
The rest of the American League winners were: P Mike Mussina (Yankees); C Joe Mauer (Twins), 1B Carlos Pena (Rays), 2B Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), SS Michael Young (Rangers), OF Torii Hunter (Angels) and Grady Sizemore (Indians).The winners were selected by managers and coaches from each AL team, and they could not vote for their own players. Besides being the only AL team with more than one Gold Glove winner this past season, the Mariners now have had at least one recipient for 22 consecutive seasons -- beginning with left-handed pitcher Mark Langston in 1987, the first player in franchise history to strike gold. The single-season high is four -- first baseman John Olerud, second baseman Bret Boone, center fielder Mike Cameron and Ichiro -- in 2003. Ichiro pulled within two of the franchise-record 10 Gold Gloves that Ken Griffey Jr. received from 1990-99. The 35-year-old, who started the season in center field and moved back to right field midway through the season, finished tied for fifth in the AL with 11 outfield assists. That increased his MLB total to a league-high 78 during his eight-year career. "I take it to heart that this award is given for work done for an entire season," Ichiro said, "from the very first day of the season to the very last game." The back-to-back Gold Gloves by Beltre -- the only Mariners third baseman to receive one -- doesn't surprise Sam Perlozzo, the Mariners' third-base/infield coach last season. "I had seen him play a little bit, but I never thought he was this good," Perlozzo said. "He trusts his glove, doesn't have any fear and is very intense about his defense. He wore me out in Spring Training, catching ground ball after ground ball, and he wanted you to hit them hard. He might be the reason I blew my knee out." Beltre led his AL counterparts with 272 assists, ranked second in putouts (100) and double plays (27) and was fourth in fielding percentage (.964). Of his 14 errors, only three of them occurred during the final 62 games of the season. The regular season ended on Sept. 14 for Beltre, who played nearly 1 1/2 seasons with an injured left thumb. He had surgery four days later on his thumb and left shoulder. "Almost every hitter enjoys taking batting practice, but he also enjoys taking grounders," Perlozzo said. "For some guys, it's a chore, but A.B. likes to work on his defense, and he is very intense about it." Another thing that separates Beltre from his third-base peers is that he's the only one that doesn't wear a protective cup. "I heard about that around the middle of camp and I thought, 'You gotta be kidding me.' But that's a testament to the guy's hands and courage. That's when I knew he was better than I realized." The 2008 season marked the 52nd year of the Gold Glove Award. The first were awarded in 1957 to one player at each position from both leagues, then expanded the next year to include a lineup of nine players from each league.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.