Ichiro back in M’s camp at 45 with chance to play at home

Ichiro Suzuki fluidly went through a variety of stretches on the floor in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse even before going onto the field in Peoria, Ariz. Once outside, he smoothly went through fielding, hitting and baserunning drills.

At 45 and in spring training again, Suzuki is working toward the chance to play for his original major-league team in his home country.

“Being able to put on the Seattle Mariners uniform as a player, being here the first day, it is just amazing, it is great,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “Very satisfied with today and how it went, and I’m just going to take it day by day.”

The former MVP and 10-time All-Star outfielder is in camp on a minor-league deal after serving in a special assistant’s role most of last year when he still worked out with the team. If he’s healthy, Suzuki will be part of the Mariners’ expanded 28-player roster next month for their season-opening two games against the A’s in Tokyo.

“My body really hasn’t changed,” said Suzuki, who checked in at camp with only 7 percent body fat.

“He looks unbelievable, like he’s prepared every minute of every day to get to this time, and it’s probably because he has,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He’s so focused on his goals, and right now his goal is to make sure that he is on that plane when we leave for Tokyo.”

Large groups of fans and Japanese media followed Suzuki everywhere he went during the first workout.

When asked how much he looked forward to the Japan series, Suzuki insisted that he’s not thinking about that. The player with 4,367 career hits — 3,089 in the 18 big-league seasons and 1,278 in nine seasons in Japan before that — is focused on his daily work.

“I think a 45-year-old baseball player really shouldn’t be thinking about the future. It’s about today,” said Suzuki, who would be MLB’s active career hits leader if he’s on the big-league roster — seven more than Albert Pujols — since Adrian Beltre retired after last season with 3,166 hits.

Romo speaks: Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo believes Miami’s rebuilt roster can become his fountain of youth.

“I think the youth here gives me energy, gives me confidence that I can still play because I’m with them every day,” Romo said. “Yesterday we were running and, yeah, they beat me, but they didn’t beat me by much.”

Miami bucked the trend of clubs filling bullpens with fireballing relievers by signing the Romo — whose fastball now is 85 mph — to a one-year, $2.5 million contract Friday. Romo employs an array of curves and sliders to set up that fastball.

“It’s 85, but it’s coming hot,” said Romo, who will become the second-oldest Marlin should Curtis Granderson, 37, make the club out of spring training.

Romo saved 84 games with the Giants from 2008 to 2016, winning three World Series rings. After a year with the Dodgers, he spent the past two seasons with Tampa Bay, recording 25 saves for the Rays last season.

Briefly: Former A’s reliever John Axford signed a minor-league contract with the Blue Jays. If added to the 40-man roster, the 35-year-old right-hander would get a one-year contract with a $1.65 million salary. … The Orioles agreed to terms with shortstop Alcides Escobar on a minor-league contract. Escobar, 32, has played 11 seasons with Milwaukee and Kansas City and has a .258 lifetime average. … Jameson Taillon was named the Pirates’ Opening Day starter. … Cardinals left fielder Marcel Ozuna (shoulder surgery) will be on a limited throwing program to start the spring but is expected to be ready for Opening Day, manager Mike Shildt said.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Ichiro-back-in-M-s-camp-at-45-with-chance-to-13622898.php.

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