Ichiro to announce his retirement

Ichiro Suzuki

Embarking on his 19th season this year, it appears as though Ichiro has chose to retire. Yusei Kikuchi, who also is from Japan and played in the Nippon Professional League, made his MLB debut Thursday and was brought to tears as the 2001 American League MVP said goodbye.

The 2019 MLB season officially opened on Thursday in Tokyo, and with it came the end of one of baseball's most remarkable careers.

The man many see as taking over the mantle for Ichiro in Seattle, compatriot Yusei Kikuchi who pitched his Major League Baseball debut on Thursday, was particularly moved.

It was June of 2007 and the Mariners were in the middle of a 10-game road trip from San Diego to Chicago and eventually on to Houston.

But if the whole point of the M's participating in the Japan opener was to celebrate Ichiro and all that he's done for the Mariners and baseball in general in the Pacific Northwest, that point was unfortunately lost in translation - and a 16-hour time difference - while most M's fans were sleeping.

In 2004, he set the major league record for hits in a season with 262, besting the previous record of 257 by George Sisler in 1920.

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On Wednesday, Suzuki started his 28th professional season and 19th in the majors, where he spent most of his career in Seattle and had stints with the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.

Suzuki turned pro in 1992 as the fourth-round pick of the Pacific League's Orix BlueWave, now the Orix Buffaloes.

Ichiro returned to the Mariners before the start of the 2018 season, then transitioned in May into a role as the special assistant to the chairman that allowed him to still be with the team and take part in pregame workouts, but meant he could not play in any games.

Speculation on Suzuki's retirement has been in full swing as of late as his numbers have dwindled over the years.

When Orix hired Hall of Famer Akira Ogi to manage in 1994, the iconoclastic skipper unleashed the young slugger's hidden genius.

Kyodo News was the first to report on Ichiro's plan to retire. "He said, 'No. Too much media'".

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