After his three-month stint in the Bronx, the Yankees wanted to bring Ichiro back on a shirt-term basis to be the replacement for Nick Swisher, but Ichiro wasn't willing to accept a one-year deal and instead, the Yankees had to up their offer and give him a 2-year, $13 million deal. Now in the second year of that deal, Ichiro has gone from being the starting right fielder to the fourth outfielder on the team and likely to start the season on the bench.
Yet despite the new role on the team, Ichiro knew that when he accepted the trade to come to the Yankees, he had to be ready for all kinds of possibilities and ready to play at a moments notice when called upon.
“I don’t know how I’m going to feel once the season starts," he admitted. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like. But right now, it doesn’t change the way I prepare myself throughout the spring."
Now playing in right field is Carlos Beltran, the former New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals slugger who signed a three-year, $45 million deal to return to New York after two seasons away. Beltran's arrival meant a decreased role for Ichiro, who just isn't the same hitter that he once was during his prime years with the Mariners.
In 150 games with the Yankees last season, the 40-year-old Japanese star hit .262 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, 20 stolen bases and 136 hits, although he did accomplish getting his 4,000th hit between MLB and Japan back in August. Despite not having strong power numbers, the other numbers were way down from Ichiro's normal season averages and his time with the Yankees is likely drawing to a close; if not at the end of the 2014 season, potentially at the trade deadline if another team needs a veteran outfielder, but even if his time in the Bronx is likely going to end, Ichiro plans to play for a while after 2014.
“Retirement from baseball is something I haven’t even thought about," he said. Asked how many more seasons he thought he could play, Ichiro laughed. “Not just a few," he said. “Many. For me, I feel there’s no reason for me to retire right now."
It would make sense for Ichiro to continue playing especially since he's close on a historic milestone in MLB; the 3000th hit club. As of right now, he sits at 2,742 hits and needs just 258 hits to get to the milestone that guarantees most players into Cooperstown and into baseball's Hall of Fame, so the many more seasons comment makes sense if Ichiro has his eyes set on that goal, even if he has to get it somewhere else in 2015.
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