Ichiro Suzuki closed a long chapter in his career on July 23 as the Seattle Mariners dealt the star right fielder to the New York Yankees for two prospects.
Ichiro, who is in his 12th Major League season -- until July 23 all with the Mariners -- didn't have far to go to join his new club. The Yankees are in Seattle for a three-game series, and within hours he was in the Bronx Bombers' road greys sporting No. 31 on his back.
"I didn't think I should be with a team with so many players in their early 20s," Ichiro told reporters at an afternoon news conference with his new manager Joe Girardi, adding, "I felt very strongly that a change of scenery would revitalize my performance." Before the trade, the right fielder was hitting .261 in 95 games this season for Seattle -- well-below his MLB career average of .322.
Though apparently looking forward to playing for a contender -- the Yankees boast the best record in baseball at 58-38, as against the Mariners' dismal 42-56 mark -- Ichiro's departure was obviously an emotional one.
"It's hard to put what I'm feeling now into words," Ichiro said. "I've been filled with sadness since imagining taking off my Mariners uniform" for the last time, he continued, at times close to tears. "I'm very proud of my time with the Mariners, but I hope to move forward now."