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Originally published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

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Mariners' Munenori Kawasaki says he's happy for friend Ichiro | Notebook

Kawasaki said he has no regrets about signing with the Mariners, even with Ichiro's departure.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Shortstop Munenori Kawasaki has always been inextricably linked to Ichiro. He modeled his hitting style after the veteran, who helped facilitate Kawasaki's signing with the Mariners this offseason as a free agent from Japan. In fact, Kawasaki said this winter he would play for no other team because of his desire to be Ichiro's teammate.

But now Ichiro is gone, traded to the Yankees on Monday. Kawasaki said he's fully prepared to play the rest of the season without his idol.

"My attitude and my approach will not change," he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "It was fortunate to have (Ichiro on the team) until Tampa. It is what it is now. He was the one that actually got me here. He was the one that got me to this team. Now I have great teammates and good people here. So I thank him for being able to meet all these wonderful people in the clubhouse. That's what I look forward to, being with this team."

Kawasaki said he has no regrets about signing with the Mariners, even with Ichiro's departure.

"I'm enjoying myself," he said in English.

As for Ichiro, "At the end of the day, you see him happy in his 31 jersey with the New York Yankees. If he's happy, we're all happy."

Notes

• The Mariners got good news on Franklin Gutierrez, still trying to come back from his concussion. A battery of tests all came back affirmative, and he resumed exercising on Wednesday.

"Obviously, the next step beyond that is to get back into baseball activity," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's had a couple, three days with no headaches. That's a good sign. We'll see how he does now with activity."

Gutierrez has been out since June 29.

• Wedge was impressed that Justin Smoak reported right away to Tacoma on Tuesday, though MLB rules permitted him three days to report. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and stolen base in his first game.

"The first thing I take into consideration is the fact, I didn't tell him to report there yesterday," Wedge said. "He chose to go down there. I told him they were playing at home. That's all I said. I even talked to Brownie (Rainiers manager Daren Brown) about that — you let me know if he shows up or not, and if not, I would have been fine with that, too. Nothing wrong with taking a break. But it didn't surprise me he showed up there, he was the first one there, and got it going.

"He's a worker. The intangibles are there. He's a tough kid. That's why I've got every reason to believe this guy is going to be in the middle of all this."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

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