Japan's greatest baseball export, Ichiro Suzuki, said he felt "mental stress" last year after seeing his record streak of 200-hit seasons snapped at 10.
"I felt desperate last season," the Seattle Mariners told reporters in Japan. "That doesn't happen to me very often. Mental stress is a lot worse than physical stress."
Suzuki, 38, had 262 hits in 2004 to set a single-season major-league record. He broke another record in 2009 when he became the first to get 200 hits in nine successive seasons, before extending it to 10.
"If I can get two or three hits every day, I never feel tired," Suzuki said. "One hit relieves my stress, it's better than an hour of massage."
He had 184 hits and a .272 average -- both career lows -- last season.
"Sometimes I feel I'm getting older, or more sensitive to what they say on TV," Suzuki said.
"It's a lame conclusion to blame everything on age. People are quick to point to age. Those kinds of people don't interest me."
RODNEY'S A RAY
Pitcher Fernando Rodney has signed a one-year, $2-million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and will compete for the closer's job, according to an ESPN report Wednesday.
The right-hander will earn $1.75 million in 2012, with a $2.5-million option for 2013 or a $250,000 buyout.
The 34-year-old is 22-38 with a 4.29 earned-run average and 87 saves during a nine-year major league career -- the first seven with the Detroit Tigers.
After signing with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2010, Rodney was used as a setup man in 2010 and was more of a forgotten man in 2011, working little down the stretch.
PITCHES TOO HIGH
A couple of solid starting pitchers are still available on the free-agent market, but apparently the price isn't right.
Veterans Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda remain on the Red Sox' radar but not at their asking price, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
The New York Yankees apparently have been kicking Kuroda's tires, too.
Oswalt, 34, was 9-10 with a 3.69 earned-run average for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011.
Kuroda, 36, had a 13-16 record and a 3.07 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A source told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that while Oswalt would like to pitch for the Cardinals, the feeling isn't mutual.
The Miami Marlins are on the verge of acquiring pitcher Carlos Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs, FoxSports.com reported Wednesday ... The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes to a minor-league contract. Reyes was in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation for part of the 2011 season.