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News » Ichiro makes a call: He'll play Wednesday

Ichiro makes a call: He'll play Wednesday

Ichiro makes a call: He'll play Wednesday
The Mariners were waiting until the results of Ichiro's final blood test before making the final call on his expected activation from the disabled list Wednesday.

Never mind that. Ichiro has spoken.

"In my mind, I'm playing on Wednesday," he said before the Mariners' workout Monday at Safeco Field.

After being diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer that resulted in the first DL stint of his major-league career, Ichiro remained in Peoria, Ariz., to work out. In tribute, the Mariners hung his jersey in their dugout throughout their 5-2 road trip to Minnesota and Oakland.

"It made me very happy, but at the same time, I'm not dead yet," he said, speaking through interpreter Ken Barron. "I'll make sure to get that jersey back."

Assessing his health, Ichiro said on Monday, "I feel so good it's annoying."

Ichiro's activation for the second game of a three-game series with the Angels seems like a mere formality.

"He looks great," said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. "His batting practice was terrific. I think his energy level is back."

And manager Don Wakamatsu, speaking at the beginning of the workout, said: "We're going to watch him work out today, but everything looks like it's headed [toward Ichiro being activated Wednesday]."

Wakamatsu added that Ichiro will hit leadoff, despite the hot start by Endy Chavez. He's mulling whether to bat Chavez second or ninth.

Ichiro said that the ulcer diagnosis "made me feel I'm human. ... Up to this point, I've been able to play Baseball with health. I kind of took it for granted, but now I clearly understand the joy of being healthy and being able to play Baseball."

Ichiro said he couldn't pick up the Mariners' games on TV while in Arizona.

"Of course, I got to see the results, and it made me very happy," he added. "I guess I'm a little upset we lost two games."

After the diagnosis, Ichiro fought to stay off the disabled list, but the Mariners felt it was best for his long-term health. Ichiro isn't ready to concede that point.

"I don't feel that way at all," he said. "I wish I would have played. Now the team owes me. Now I can get a favor in the future from the team."

He had a hint of a smile on his face when he said that, just as when he was asked if he believed the stress of the World Baseball Classic contributed to his bleeding ulcer, as team doctor Mitch Storey suggested.

"I don't know, but that's just a guess ... " he said. "When you think about it, I could get an ulcer from the stress of talking to you guys."

Zduriencik remains firm in his belief that putting Ichiro on the disabled list was the right decision.

"Oh, yeah, no question about it," he said. "This is a 162-game season. To have lost him later in the year, if this thing prolonged itself, or we didn't take care of it, it would not been a good thing for this club."

Griffey's return to Safeco

Today's home opener against the Angels will mark the long-awaited return of Ken Griffey Jr. to Safeco Field in a Mariners uniform. Though Griffey declined to discuss his homecoming, Wakamatsu recognized the significance of the moment.

"I think it's long overdue," Wakamatsu said. "I think he's just as excited as the fans. He wouldn't have come back if he didn't understand the love for him here. Every day he has a smile on his face to be back. It's phenomenal."


? Longtime Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, who died Monday, won the highest honor in Baseball broadcasting, the Ford C. Frick Award, in 2002. Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus last year won the same award, which is presented in Cooperstown, N.Y., during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Though Niehaus didn't know Kalas well, he is a longtime admirer.

"His voice was a signature voice," Niehaus said. "Like Vin Scully's was a signature voice, Harry Caray's was a signature voice, a signature call. Harry Kalas was in that group. Once you heard his voice, you knew who it was. He didn't have to say his name."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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