The Seattle Mariners are running out of healthy outfielders. To the rescue — Ichiro?
Ben Gamel will miss opening day, the Mariners said Monday, because of a strained oblique muscle that's expected to sideline him four to six weeks.
That could open a spot for Ichiro Suzuki, and a deal with the Mariners might be close.
Suzuki was the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year for Seattle in 2001 and remained a fan favorite until he was traded away in 2012. While with the Mariners, he was a 10-time All-Star selection and won 10 Gold Gloves, and in 2004 he set the major-league season record for hits with 262.
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The 44-year-old Suzuki spent the past four seasons in Miami, batting .255 last year and starting 23 times in the outfield.
For his career, Ichiro is a .312 hitter with 3,080 hits and 509 steals. He is the Mariners' career leader in batting average (.322), hits (2,533) and steals (438) and is second in runs scored (1,176).
Ichiro is working out in Japan, so he'd have to fly to the U.S. and pass a physical before anything could be official, according to The Seattle Times.
Gamel hit .275 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs in 134 games last year during his first full season in the majors.
The Mariners were hopeful Gamel would miss only a few days, but an MRI showed a more extensive problem. He first felt the injury after batting practice late last week.
Gamel joined a growing list of banged-up Mariners. Seattle has already seen first baseman Ryon Healy (hand), outfielder Mitch Haniger (hand) and pitcher Felix Hernandez (bruised forearm) slowed by injuries during spring training.
Outfielder Guillermo Heredia is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, leaving Seattle thin at the position.