MLB notes: Japanese fans keen to see Ichiro

Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be the star attraction when his club faces the Athletics in...

Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be the star attraction when his club faces the Athletics in Tokyo. (TORU HANAI/Reuters file photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 PM ET

Fans are itching to see Ichiro when the American League season opens Wednesday in Tokyo.

The Oakland Athletics are listed as the home team for the two-game series against Seattle, but most fans at the Tokyo Dome will be rooting for Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Suzuki, a native of Japan, moved to Seattle in 2001 and this will be his debut in a Mariners uniform in his home country.

Seattle and Oakland were scheduled to meet in 2003 in Tokyo but the series was called off because of the threat of war in Iraq.

"We are wearing white uniforms," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "But based on the fact the Mariners have more Japanese players than we do, sentiment might go the other way."

Infielder Munenori Kawasaki has joined Ichiro and pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on the Mariners roster.

KEEP ON TRUCKIN'

There was good news and bad news the other day for Jayson Werth, who is trying to rebound from a poor season with the Washington Nationals.

The 32-year-old outfielder hit a massive homer, estimated at 492 feet, in a Grapefruit League game against the New York Mets.

The bad news? The ball struck Werth's truck parked beyond the outfield fall.

"It just left a hole in the Earth where my truck used to be," Werth said jokingly.

The Washington Post reported that it might have been "the hardest-hit ball (Werth has) hit as a National."

Werth joined the Nats in 2011 as a free agent.

AVILES TAKES SOX JOB

The Boston Red Sox demoted hot prospect Jose Iglesias on Tuesday and gave the shortstop job to Mike Aviles.

It was (emotional) because we have tough decisions going on, but at the end of the day I can't control that," Iglesias, 22, said. "I'll get better. That's what I can control and that's what I will do."

Manager Bobby Valentine said Iglesias needs minor-league seasoning.

Aviles has not played shortstop on a regular basis since 2008 but hit .333 in 45 spring at-bats going into Tuesday.

Aviles, 31, has played in 339 games at various infield positions the past four seasons with the Kansas City Royals and Boston.

DICKEY DISCUSSES SEX ABUSE

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, in his memoir to be published this week, writes about being sexually abused as a child and of his disgust at witnessing drug abuse while with the Texas Rangers.

The right-handed pitcher said was abused by a teenage babysitter when he was eight years old. In excerpts published in Sports Illustrated he said he was overcome with anxiety at the time and never told anyone until he was 31 years old.

Dickey said when he was called up to the Rangers in 2001, he came across a syringe on the clubhouse floor.

"I don't know if this syringe injected a Ranger with insulin or cortisone or B12 or anabolic steroids, though you can hazard a guess when you run through the roster of my muscle-laden teammates," Dickey wrote.

"I'd never seen a syringe in a baseball clubhouse before ... it makes me feel as though I am looking straight at Evil -- like seeing a weapon somebody left behind at a crime scene."

INDIANS COOL ON GUERRERO

Free agent Vladimir Guerrero worked out in the Dominican Republic for Indians representatives, but Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti played down the possibility Tuesday of signing the veteran designated hitter.

Antonetti told the Plain Dealer that Guerrero, 37, has physical issues that prevent him from playing the outfield and that the Indians already have a DH in Travis Hafner.

One source said Guerrero appeared to be in good shape. He has a career .318 average with 449 homers in 16 seasons.

Meanwhile, two Indians prospects, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and outfielder/first baseman Matt LaPorta were optioned Tuesday to triple-A.

Chisenhall, 23, hit .205 with 16 strikeouts in 16 games this spring, apparently losing the third baseman's job to Jack Hannahan.

LaPorta, 27, has had a poor camp, Antonetti said.

BRIEFLY

Miguel Cabrera has been cleared by medics to resume baseball activities Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers said. The third baseman was sidelined for just over a week after being hit beneath his right eye by a ground ball. He suffered an eight-stitch cut and a fracture of the orbital bone ... Jeff Niemann has won the job as fifth starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, beating out Wade Davis, who moves to the bullpen. Niemann, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 11-7 last season with a 4.06 earned-run average ... Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer, who lent Matt Bush his vehicle on the day of an alleged hit-and-run accident last week, reportedly didn't know Bush had a suspended driver's licence. Bush was arrested after 72-year-old motorcyclist Tony Tufano was hit by a vehicle that fled the scene ... The Milwaukee Brewers have signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $11 million. Lucroy, 25, hit .265 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI last season ... Three groups -- headed by Magic Johnson; St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke; and billionaires Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong -- remain in the bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers. An auction for the team will begin Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.


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