Mariners GM says Ichiro Suzuki will be on Seattle's opening day roster

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Ichiro Suzuki (Getty Images)

Ichiro Suzuki isn’t done yet.

Earlier this year, the Mariners announced they were planning on giving Suzuki the chance to play in Seattle’s season-opening series against the Athletics, which takes place in Tokyo, Japan.

General manager Jerry Dipoto intends to keep that promise.

“Ichi will be on our team when we go to Tokyo,” Dipoto told reporters Thursday, via MLB.com. “He’ll be an active player. We are still committed to the idea of developing this roster. Mitch Haniger is going to be our right fielder, Mallex Smith is going to play center field and Domingo Santana will be the primary left fielder. And we’ll find at-bats for Jay Bruce, whether they be in left field, DH or occasionally at first base.

“That’s the way we envision the 2019 season playing out. But one thing I’ve learned with Ichiro, first of all his preparation and focus is the best I’ve ever seen on any player I’ve ever encountered. His single-mindedness in achieving a goal is so real that I won’t put anything past him.”

Suzuki, 45, batted .205 in 47 plate appearances for the Mariners last season. Then, after a month, he was moved into the position of “assistant to the chairman” with the ball club.

He has played 13 of his 18 MLB seasons in Seattle and has often said he wants to play until he’s 50. Dipoto would not comment on that, but he also wouldn’t put it past Suzuki to earn a roster spot further into the season if he plays well enough.

“Frankly if he rolls out in Tokyo and gets seven hits in two games, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll play a third game,” Dipoto said. “You have to adjust as you go. We’re not going to predetermine anything. We’ll give him the opportunity to come in and do what he does, and prepare the way he prepares.”

The Mariners and the Athletics are allowed to carry three extra players on their rosters for the series which will be played March 20-21 in Tokyo.