Mariners’ Kikuchi to remain with team after death of father

              FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2019, file photo, Seattle Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, of Japan, throws during spring training baseball practice, in Peoria, Ariz. Whether he wants to be or not, Kikuchi’s rookie season is a science experiment. An attempt to see whether pitchers brought from Asia to Major League Baseball should be handled differently in their first season. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi says he will stay with the club following the death of his father, Yuji Kikuchi.

The younger Kikuchi issued a statement late Saturday night following Seattle’s 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox saying his father had passed away following a “long and valiant battle with cancer.”

Kikuchi says he saw his father during the team’s trip to Japan earlier this month for two games against Oakland. Kikuchi says his father expressed “his desire for me to remain focused on baseball and help my team win.” Kikuchi started the second of Seattle’s two games in Japan for his major league debut.

“Although difficult, I will honor his wishes and dedicate the rest of this season to him,” Kikuchi said in the statement.

Kikuchi is next expected to start for the Mariners when they begin a trip in Chicago next Thursday.