By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE — Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki is being treated for a bleeding ulcer and was placed on the 15-day disabled list today, sending Seattle into opening day minus one of baseball’s best players.
The Mariners said the ulcer is no longer bleeding, but doctors have restricted his activity.
Suzuki played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic. He complained of severe fatigue and missed Seattle’s final three spring training games in Arizona, and was diagnosed with the ulcer after seeing doctors Thursday.
The Mariners were scheduled to play two exhibition games in Las Vegas against Colorado this weekend and then begin the regular season on Monday in Minnesota. The All-Star right fielder will not be accompanying the team.
“It was a very difficult decision to place Ichiro on the disabled list, especially since we know what a fierce competitor he is and how important it is to him to help the team,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
“However, we determined it was in both his best interest, and the best interest of the club, to place him on the DL at this time.”
It’s the first time in his major league career Suzuki has been on the disabled list. He’s been remarkably healthy since arriving in Seattle in 2001, missing just 16 games in his eight-year career and only three games in the last five seasons. Suzuki had played in 197 consecutive games.
The move was retroactive to March 31, meaning Suzuki won’t be eligible to come off the disabled list until April 15.
“He said he’s tired. He’s got some fatigue,” manager Don Wakamatsu said Thursday morning in Arizona.
Suzuki didn’t arrive at Mariners spring training until March 26, after leading Japan to a second consecutive WBC title. The high pressure of playing in the WBC combined with the expectations from his home country made the championship hugely satisfying to the outfielder.
“The expectation from the people of Japan was uncomparable this time. So to become champions in that situation is something that has a lot of meaning for me and what kind of emotions and expectations the Japanese players played upon is something you guys here can’t imagine,” Suzuki said through a translator when he arrived in Arizona.
“That’s how much was riding on this. Although three years ago was very fulfilling … it’s uncomparable how much more fulfilling it was this time.”
Suzuki hit .273 for Japan in the WBC, playing in nine games, including his game-winning two-run single in the 10th inning of the championship game to give Japan a 5-3 win over Korea. In limited spring training at-bats, Suzuki went 5-for-12.