by Alex Poletti
Photo by Rich Schultz
The Seattle Mariners have a predicament before their Spring Training games begin: who will be their ace this upcoming season? Their lefty one-two punch of Marco Gonzalez and Yusei Kikuchi hardly strikes terror the hearts of opposing lineups, and top prospect Justus Sheffield isn’t quite ready to handle the load. Instead, the horrified party is manager Scott Servais, who realized a week after pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona that his best pitching option was retired outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
“Ichiro’s been around, helping out with the organization,” Servais says. “He’s been throwing the ball a bit, too, just for fun. After he threw a few pitches, we realized he was better than anyone else we had on the squad. I think that’s when we started to realize how fucked we are.”
While the team could bring Ichiro back after his retirement, they did that last season, and last season wasn’t too hot for the Seattle club. However, some see the idea of Ichiro heading the starting rotation as a positive.
“When you think about it, we just let Felix [Hernandez] go,” Mariners general manager and should-be janitor Jerry Dipoto says. “Maybe going from one aging, inefficient and frankly bad beloved franchise icon to another at the top of the rotation is the kind of easy transition the fans need.”
The fans will need something, as Seattle is almost certain to go another year without a playoff win. The PECOTA projections estimate 96 losses for the Northeastern ball club as they enter their 20th consecutive year of rebuilding a team that should probably follow its NBA countepart’s lead and move to Oklahoma City.
“He may not be trained as a pitcher, but you can tell when he throws his fastball that Ichiro has stuff,” a scout says. “And by stuff, I mean Alzheimers’ and colon cancer brought on by old age. I will say, he’s striking out batters. Granted, those batters play for the Seattle Mariners, so that’s not much of an accomplishment.”
Ichiro has an inning of pitching experience at the big league level, coming into a game in the eighth inning back in 2015, when he played for another worthless franchise in the Miami Marlins. His 9.00 would be third among qualifying Mariners pitchers.
Ichiro actually re-signing with the Mariners instead of retaining any dignity he has left seems like a longshot. Luckily for Seattle, there is one way the team can stay a part of the narrative in 2020.
“We’re literal trash,” Servais says. “And the Astros like to bang trash cans. I guess it makes sense why the fuck us every time we play, then.”