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Ichiro Suzuki Will Bat Third, Not Leadoff, For Mariners In 2012

After more than a decade headlining the Seattle Mariners' lineup as their leadoff hitter, Ichiro Suzuki is headed for a change: He'll be batting third for the M's this season, according to MLB.com.

"I've done a lot of thinking about it this winter and talked with the coaches and [GM Jack Zduriencik] and everyone," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Bottom line is for us to have the best lineup, one through nine out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro batting third. It helps the guy in front of him, the guy behind him and it helps him."

Ichiro has been the Mariners' leadoff man throughout his 11 years in Seattle, dating back to when he broke into the major leagues in 2001, winning MVP and Rookie of the Year honors. His career totals as the M's leadoff guy include 2,428 cits, 280 doubles, 74 triples and 423 stolen bases.

The veteran outfielder is now 38, however, and Wedge says it's time for a change.

"He's as smart a baseball player as we have in there, and he understands the game very well," the manager said. "He understands what the responsibility and priorities are with somebody hitting third, and I'm trusting in that. I had a good talk with him yesterday. It wasn't out of left field, because we've had discussions [previously]. He's on board. He's ready to go."

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