As long as he's healthy, Ichiro Suzuki will play for the Mariners against the A's in Japan to open the 2019 regular season, general manager Jerry Dipoto announced on Monday.
The Mariners play a two-game series on March 20–21 and the teams can carry 28–man rosters before returning to United States.
"I would stop short of guaranteeing it, because we have to make sure he's healthy. But he'll be on our roster," Dipoto said. "We feel strongly that it's the right thing to do for our franchise and the right thing to do for the NPB and believe it's the right thing to do for Ichiro. What happens thereafter remains to be seen."
The 44-year-old Ichiro came off the Seattle roster this spring and worked in the team’s front office as a special assistant to the chairman through the end of the season. He couldn't play but he did take batting practice throughout the season. Dipoto said Ichiro will be at Spring Training and the team will give "him an opportunity as both a coaching presence and a player presence."
He has a career 3,089 career hits — 23rd all-time — with a .311/.355/.402 line.
Ichiro played nine seasons for the Orix BlueWave in Japan. He arrived in the Major Leagues in 2001 and played with the Mariners until 2012 before being traded to the Yankees. He played three seasons with the Marlins before returning to Seattle this year. He's a 10-time All-Star and 10-time Golden Glove winner.