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Ichiro won’t play again in 2018 as Mariners move him to front office role

Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro has been a part of baseball for decades. | Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Legendary outfielder Ichiro Suzuki’s playing career may be over as the Mariners announced his transition into the role of special assistant to the chairman, effective immediately. The Mariners’ announcement doesn’t outright say that Ichiro is retired from baseball, but it does confirm that he won’t return to the team’s active roster for the remainder of the 2018 season.

“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” GM Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “This new role is a way to accomplish that. While it will evolve over time, the key is that Ichiro’s presence in our clubhouse and with our players and staff improves our opportunity to win games. That is our number-one priority and Ichiro’s number-one priority.”

Ichiro, who joined the Mariners in 2001 after becoming a star in his native Japan, will work with the club in various ways in his new role. He’ll help mentor players and coaches with his vast experience, and also collaborate with the front office, presumably to offer his input on baseball operations.

“While this agreement only covers the 2018 season, it is our goal that Ichiro be a member of the Seattle organization long-term,” Dipoto said. “As his role evolves over the 2018 season, it will inform the team and Ichiro on his best fit with us in 2019 and beyond.”

Ichiro was batting .205 with zero extra-base hits in 15 games this season, his first back with the Mariners after several years playing with the Yankees and Marlins. If this is truly the end, he finishes with 3,089 hits, 509 stolen bases and a .311/.355/.402 batting line at the MLB level. The 10-time All-Star won 10 Gold Gloves and the 2001 AL MVP.