[nfbwatlk] New dynamic in the clubhouse

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Sun Feb 22 14:57:16 UTC 2009


New dynamic in the clubhouse
It's still Ichiro's team, but M's envision smooth sailing with Junior

Last updated February 20, 2009 10:35 p.m. PT


PEORIA, Ariz. -- The addition of Ken Griffey Jr. to the Mariners roster 
changes the dynamic of the clubhouse.

But on many levels, this is still Ichiro Suzuki's team. Griffey has been 
gone for nine years and Ichiro has been here for eight seasons, making 
eight All-Star teams, winning eight Gold Gloves and recording 200 or 
more hits in a record eight consecutive seasons.

         Scott Eklund / P-I
        Third baseman Adrian Beltre gets some air as an unseen ground 
ball draws his attention during batting practice Friday in Peoria, Ariz. 
Beltre and his teammates will be joined Sunday by Ken Griffey Jr. for 
his first full workout.
Griffey will be in camp Saturday for a news conference, then will suit 
up Sunday for his first full workout in a Mariners uniform since 1999.

Ichiro, meanwhile, is in Japan preparing for the World Baseball Classic. 
He won't join the Mariners until after the WBC.

Former Mariners closer J.J. Putz talked earlier in the week about a 
disconnect between Ichiro and the rest of the team last year. Mariners 
team president Chuck Armstrong suggested to Seattle P-I columnist Art 
Thiel on Thursday that the club is hoping Griffey's arrival will 
mitigate the worst of those issues.

Ichiro seems to feel the same way. In an e-mail to the P-I on Friday 
morning, Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio, using his own words but 
"knowing how Ichiro would respond," said Ichiro "welcomes Ken Griffey 
Jr. to the team," and added that whatever happened in the past in the 
clubhouse was over and done.

"Ichiro's feelings for things that happened in the past are they 
happened in the past," Attanasio wrote, "and they have no relevance to 
what is going at this time. He feels the past was good or bad because of 
the individual circumstances at that time."

Armstrong harked back to his law firm days to explain his take on the 
Griffey-Ichiro relationship.

"I think (Griffey) can bring players together, at home and on the road, 
and I'm sure Ichiro would be open to that," Armstrong said. "When I was 
first practicing law, our senior partner would wander through the office 
around 5 o'clock and start talking with the young lawyers. He might 
break open something to drink and start telling us about the firm's 
history and its people, what it meant to be a lawyer, and talk about 
issues like ethics.

"It was kind of an elder-statesman thing, and it was important to 
connect us with what we were doing."

Referring to talk of clubhouse tension dating to last season, Attanasio 
also said Ichiro "holds no grudges whatsoever and will do anything the 
manager (Don Wakamatsu) wants him to do for the betterment of the team, 
and will do it without hesitation or resistance."

Ostensibly, that means Ichiro would take a move back to center field 
from right field or would bat third in the lineup instead of first if 
Wakamatsu determined that was best for the team.

Wakamatsu, told of the communication Friday morning, said he appreciates 
the sentiment from Ichiro's camp but that there are no plans to alter 
any of his current roles.

The manager, too, said, "The past is the past -- it's over."

"There is a feeling that this is a real young club," Wakamatsu said. 
"But with the addition of Griffey and having Ichiro here, it's not that 
young. There are some young dynamics, but there have been a lot of 

"If you change just one or two players, you are going to get a new 
dynamic, and we've had lots of changes. This is a new year and a new 
dynamic. I feel good about what is going on here."

Wakamatsu said Ichiro would not be asked to play center field. As things 
stand now, defensive whiz Franklin Gutierrez is the center fielder with 
Ichiro in right and, presumably, Griffey in left field most of the time 
depending on how his left knee, operated on last summer, holds up.

In the clubhouse, Griffey's arrival gives the media one other focal 
point, particularly after tough losses. Some of the teammates who have 
complained about Ichiro have been difficult for the media to find after 
bad games.

Ichiro has always been available, and that's something he has in common 
with Griffey, who has a history of standing and talking after grim games 
when others just aren't up to it.

Ichiro and Griffey first met in the spring of 1999 when Ichiro and his 
Orix BlueWave team trained at the Mariners camp, and the two seemed to 
have an instant bond.

Griffey was at the peak of his game at the time and Ichiro, although he 
would remain relatively unknown in the U.S. until signing with the 
Mariners and winning the American League MVP award in 2001, was already 
a national icon in Japan.

That bond doesn't seem to have dimmed with time.

"Ichiro is honored by having the opportunity to play on the same field 
as Junior and is looking forward ... to being able to learn things from 
him," Attanasio's wrote.

And the e-mail suggested Ichiro believes the ability to learn from 
Griffey will be spread over the entire organization.

"It is a good thing for the young players," Attanasio wrote, "to have 
this opportunity to be a teammate of such a great player. (He is 
someone) who has the capacity to teach all of the players how to be a 
professional baseball player and satisfy their responsibility to the 
team, the owner and the organization.

"And, most of all, to themselves and to the fans."


P-I reporter John Hickey can be reached at 206-448-8004 or 
johnhickey at seattlepi.com. Read his Mariners blog at 

© 1998-2009 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: mast.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 6011 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20090222/2713ba30/attachment.gif>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: 226mariners21_se_beltre1_02-21-2009_DM3CA40.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 8318 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20090222/2713ba30/attachment.jpg>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: zoom.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 221 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20090222/2713ba30/attachment-0001.gif>

More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list