New teammates help Ichiro make smooth move | Mariners Notebook
Yankees manager Joe Girardi and his players say Ichiro adjusted quickly to his new team after being traded by the Mariners.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When the Mariners' clubhouse opened to the media on Tuesday, a familiar face was coming out the door — none other than Ichiro, who had gone over to retrieve some of his items and say farewell to his former teammates.
"Everybody came up to him and talked to him," said newly arrived Mike Carp, who came off his injury rehab and was recalled by the Mariners from Tacoma. "It's tough to say goodbye to a legend like that, but we wish him the best of luck. I was able to say goodbye to him. I was hoping I'd get a chance to see him. I just thanked him for everything. He's a true inspiration. No one's done what he does. Hopefully, he keeps adding to those records. I want to see him win."
One item Ichiro took to the visiting clubhouse was his famous bat case, which drew the attention of new teammate Derek Jeter.
"So that's how it works," Jeter said to Ichiro. "So that's how you get so many hits."
By all accounts, Ichiro is adjusting well to his new gig as a New York Yankee. According to manager Joe Girardi, the transition was smooth and immediate. Girardi pointed out that Raul Ibanez and Freddy Garcia were former Mariners teammates (as was Rafael Soriano), and that Ichiro played in numerous All-Star games with Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
"When he walked in, he was talking to guys right away, so I didn't have to tell him anything," Girardi said. "A lot of guys went right up to him. I think he fit in really quickly. It was a smooth transition for him."
Ichiro was in right field for the second straight game on Tuesday, but Girardi's plan is to move him to left field once Nick Swisher returns from a hip injury, perhaps as soon as Friday. Ichiro batted eighth, and Girardi said that he has accepted his new roles without issue.
"He was great about it," Girardi said.
In a story in ESPNNewYork.com, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Ichiro agreed to several conditions — switching positions, hitting at the bottom of the order, and possibly sitting against left-handed pitching — before completion of the trade.
"He was fully educated on all our requirements," Cashman said. "One by one, every box got ticked off."
Carp, Robinson rejoin M's
To fill the roster spots vacated by the Ichiro trade and first baseman Justin Smoak's demotion to Tacoma on Monday, the Mariners recalled Carp and outfielder Trayvon Robinson from the Class AAA Rainiers.
Those players had just finished a day game in Colorado Springs on Monday and were boarding the bus for the airport when the Ichiro news broke.
"I was in shock," Carp said. "It's one of those things where I never expected a guy like that to leave. But obviously, it's best for the organization. We're going young, and it's time to really kick it into gear. He's the last piece, and I wish him the best."
Said Robinson: "What he did for the game of baseball, especially for the Mariners — he's an icon, a rock star. To play center field next to him, and especially my debut — I was in left field, he was in right field — was awesome. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life."
Carp will become the primary first baseman, manager Eric Wedge said, with Dustin Ackley also getting some time there.
Carp was hitting just .220 in his rehab stint at Tacoma, but Wedge said Rainiers manager Daren Brown told him Carp was swinging better than the average indicated.
"I'm just getting stronger, getting consistent again," Carp said. "I was trying to get the shoulder healthy and strong again, because it was really affecting my swing. I was trying to break the bad habits I created when I tried to come back a little too early."
Asked if his shoulder was finally 100 percent, Carp said, "I feel pretty good. I still have in my mind, I guess, a little anxiety. I'm trying to get over that still. But I've been playing every day and getting a lot of at-bats, a lot of first base. I haven't had any setbacks. Things are good. I expect to go forward from here, and get stronger, and hopefully get back to where I was last year. Maybe better."
As for Robinson, Wedge said he'll be a backup outfielder. He was hitting .265 for Tacoma, and Wedge said the reports are that he's improved his all-around game since his major-league stint last year, when he hit .210 in 44 games for Seattle.
"I thought I've played pretty good baseball," he said. "The average wasn't there. It is what it is. As far as playing the game, I felt I did a better job helping the team win — getting in scoring position, stealing bases, getting every opportunity for someone to drive me in."
He was thrilled to get the call from Brown in Tacoma to head north.
"I'm pretty much just as excited getting called back up as I was last year," Robinson said. "It was just finding a way to get back here, and now I'm looking to stay here. I'd like to stay here."
Gutierrez being evaluated
Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is still being evaluated to see how his concussion is responding. He underwent tests Monday and Tuesday, and the Mariners could know something on Wednesday.
"They're checking him some more to make sure nothing else is going on," Wedge said.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.