Mariners announce Ichiro Suzuki’s career as an active player is over; he’s moving into a new, off-field role

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 01: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners looks on during batting practice prior to taking on the Oakland Athletics during their game at Safeco Field on May 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — Ichiro Suzuki is moving to a new role with the Seattle Mariners — one that will take him off the field.

The team announced Thursday that the veteran outfielder is moving to an off-field role as Special Assistant to the Chairman.

The move, effective immediately, “will preclude him from returning to the active roster in 2018,” the team’s announcement says.

In his new role, Ichiro will “continue to be an active presence with the Major League club, both at home in Seattle and on the road,” according to the announcement.

The team describes the role as that of a mentor for players and staff. He will assist with outfield play, baserunning and hitting, the Mariners said.

“With Ichiro’s track record of success, his personality, his unique perspective and his work ethic, he is singularly positioned to impact both our younger players and the veterans in the clubhouse,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in the announcement. “We really don’t want him to change anything that he’s doing right now, with the exception that he will not be playing in games.

“We believe that Ichiro’s signing and his assimilation into our team has helped us this season and we want to make sure we continue that.”

While Ichiro’s role only covers the remainder of this season, the team’s long-term goal is to have him be a member of the organization for years to come.

“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,” Dipoto said.

Ichiro, 44, ranks 21st all-time in MLB history with 3,089 career hits, including 2,542 as a Mariner, after amassing 1,278 hits during a nine-year career (1992–2000) with the Orix Blue Wave of Japan’s Pacific League.

On Aug. 7, 2016, he recorded his 3,000th career hit in the Major Leagues — a triple — becoming one of 31 players to reach that milestone. Ichiro is one of seven players to collect at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases in the Major Leagues, joining Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Honus Wagner.

Ichiro joined the Mariners in 2001. He won two American League batting titles with the team, along with 10 Gold Glove Awards and 10 appearances in the All-Star Game.

Ichiro ranks first in hits (2,542), batting (.322), at-bats (7,902), triples (79) and stolen bases (438) with the Mariners, while ranking second in games played (1,859) and runs (1,181). He’s also third in team history in doubles (295) and total bases (3,292), fourth in extra-base hits (473) and fifth in RBI (633) and walks (516).