SEATTLE (AP/WFAN) – In his past visits to Yankee Stadium, Ichiro Suzuki was ready and actually enjoyed the heckling that came from the Bleacher Creatures.
He’s also ready for a new experience on Friday night when the newest Yankees outfielder makes his debut at home against the Red Sox: the roll call.
“I hope the fans do call my name, but I need to get there and play to the ability where hopefully the fans will call my name,” Suzuki said through his interpreter on Wednesday.
Before the series finale in Seattle on Wednesday, Suzuki said that he’s excited about his first game in pinstripes, when the Yankees open a weekend series against Boston. While there will be plenty of attention on his New York debut, it’ll also be a welcomed change from the oddity of this week that saw Suzuki move from one side of Safeco Field to the other and make his Yankees debut against the team he spent his first 11 seasons with.
“I think once all the attention is gone I can settle in and relax a little bit,” he said.
Suzuki was traded from Seattle to New York on Monday for two prospects. The Mariners are also paying the majority of Suzuki’s $17 million salary for this season with the Yankees paying just $2.25 million. The trade also will add $956,250 to their luxury tax bill in December, increasing his cost to New York to $3,206,250.
It may be a bargain investment by New York if Suzuki can continue his strong defensive play in the outfield — whether playing in right or left field — and heat up at the plate. With Nick Swisher coming back from a strained left hip flexor, the 38-year-old is expected to move to left field. Suzuki began Wednesday hitting .262 in 97 games this season, well off his career average of .326 entering 2012.
He was back in his familiar leadoff role for the series finale after hitting eighth in each of his first two games with New York. He hit leadoff, No. 2 and No. 3 at various points this season for Seattle prior to the trade. Before his first at-bat the Mariners showed a montage of Suzuki highlights on the video board at Safeco Field followed by the message “Ichiro: Thanks for all the thrills.” Suzuki was greeted by a standing ovation and tipped his helmet to various points of the stadium he called home for more than a decade.
A similar ovation likely awaits Suzuki on Friday night.
“When I go to the stadium obviously if the fans feel that way toward me I’m grateful but I need to prove myself and I need to play to a level the fans can enjoy and think highly of my play,” Suzuki said. “I really feel like when I get there I want to show the fans what I can do.”
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