We all suspected something like this was coming. Here it is.
After the pages of digital ink spilled on Ichiro, today is the day. He steps away from baseball as a Mariner, but will stay with the team in a non-playing capacity through the rest of the year. In baseball terms, this allows the club to move forward with the four best outfielders and keep their pitching staff fresh and at capacity—they promoted right-handed reliever Erik Goeddel to take his roster spot. His final stint with Seattle was complicated, and we’ve all spent a couple months wrestling with roster moves and where this was going to end.
Though Ichiro asserted repeatedly that he wanted to play until he was at least 51, today he accepts what his friend Koji Okumura said months ago: his death as a baseball player is here. He won’t go through the charade of one last start in right field and a mid-game removal—that would never be 51’s style. Players like Ichiro don’t die; they just fade away. He has quietly stepped aside for the young and will now help however he can from the other side, behind the scenes. We have seen the Alpha and the Omega of his career; today is the Alpha of the rest of Ichiro’s life.