Sports : Saturday, October 14, 2000
Mariners interested in outfielder Suzuki
By Bob Finnigan and Bob Sherwin
Seattle Times staff reporters
Reports that Ichiro Suzuki may be available a year before he
reaches free agency as a 10-year veteran in Japan are not new to the
Two months ago, Seattle team officials knew they had a chance to get
the talented outfielder.
Suzuki said Thursday that he would be a free agent Nov. 1, and he
wants to play in the United States.
Suzuki, 26, is a seven-time batting champion who hit .387 for the
Orix Blue Wave this year. He also is a close friend of Seattle closer
Sasaki called Suzuki when the pitcher agreed to sign with Seattle
last winter and supposedly told the outfielder, who worked out with the
Mariners during 1999 spring training, that he would lead the way to
Seattle, "and you can follow."
Mariner officials say it is not that easy, that a player who leaves
Japan before he formally becomes a free agent, like Sasaki last year,
must be "posted."
"There are specific posting rules," said Howard Lincoln,
Mariner CEO, "and the Mariners intend to follow them. If Suzuki is
posted, we'll make a decision then whether to pursue the matter."
Posting involves bidding among major-league clubs, with the money
going to the Japanese club and the highest bidder earning the right to
negotiate with the player. If the player does not like the team with the
winning bid, he can refuse the bid and stay with his team in Japan.
Since Mariner owner Hiroshi Yamauchi was a major factor in the
signing of Sasaki, even making a rare public appearance at his
contract-signing news conference, he might be expected to do no less to