Suzuki says new sense of enthusiasm behind Marlins deal
TOKYO (AP) Ichiro Suzuki says a renewed sense of enthusiasm was behind his decision to sign a $2 million, one-year contract with the Miami Marlins.
”When I met (Miami) team executives yesterday, I felt incredible enthusiasm,” Suzuki said at a press conference on Thursday. ”So I wanted to respond to their enthusiasm and I believe that is something I have been looking for the last two years.”
Suzuki’s deal includes $2.8 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $400,000 for 300 and the same amount for each additional 50 through 600.
The 41-year-old Suzuki, a 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner, is expected to be the team’s fourth outfielder behind Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
Suzuki is the first Japanese player to sign with the Marlins. He hit .284 and stole 15 bases for the New York Yankees last season.
Suzuki is a career .317 hitter in the majors and a two-time AL batting champion. The former AL MVP has 2,844 career hits.
In his first press conference in Japan since 2000, Suzuki was his usual quirky self, at one point turning the tables and asking a veteran reporter what was behind his line of questioning.
He told members of the press that difficult questions make him cough, and proceeded to start coughing when a reporter said that he was about to become the oldest active position player.
”That’s a scary question,” Suzuki said. ”As a baseball player, I’ve come to an age that I don’t really like being at. I’m 41 but there are many people who are 25 but look like they are 41. I want to be the opposite of that and will continue working bit by bit to achieve that.”
Five Marlins executives, including president David Samson, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings, made the 18-hour trek to Tokyo for the announcement.
”It was very important for us to be here today,” Samson said. ”Because commissioner (Rob) Manfred back in New York and all of us around baseball realize the importance of MLB and baseball in Japan and we’re very proud to be here.”
Hill said the Marlins hope to get the most out of the durable Suzuki.
”We’ll use him in various ways to keep him sharp and give him as many at-bats as possible,” Hill said. ”He’s in incredible shape. He doesn’t look like a 41 year old. He looks like he still has a number of years left in him.”