It was a grand experiment that was probably destined to fail.
The Mariners demoted Ichiro Suzuki from the leadoff spot, the batting-order spot where he had hit in 98 percent of his games before 2012. And why? As Rob Neyer wrote during spring training, to put Chone Figgins there!
You can stop laughing now. Figgins was awful, as most people expected, and the Mariners led off with Dustin Ackley starting May 4. But Ichiro never really hit very well batting third -- .271/.305/.367 this season -- so manager Eric Wedge is moving him back to the leadoff spot. Nick Eaton:
We don’t know yet whether Friday’s lineup change will be permanent. But after several weeks of saying Ichiro needs to do better, and after the Mariners scored 21 against Texas on Ichiro’s first and only game off so far this season, Wedge has finally made the call and returned Ichiro to his old spot.
Odds are, Ichiro is happy to be back at leadoff. He’s comfortable there. He’s broken many records there. He excels there.
He didn't excel there in 2011, though; leading off 100 percent of the time last year, Ichiro hit .272/.310/.335, just about where he is now. We'll see if this move can re-energize the Mariners star, or if his decline in 2011 was the beginning of a career decline from which he won't come back.