Dan's Dugout: More Mariners coming to Cooperstown? • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: More Mariners coming to Cooperstown?

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Ken Griffey, Jr. is the first man to sport a Mariners hat in the Hall of Fame but may not be the last.

He’d like to see Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez follow his lead.

A relaxed Junior Griffey joins the festivities at Doubleday Field Monday. Photo credit: Dan Schlossberg

A relaxed Junior Griffey joins the festivities at Doubleday Field Monday. Photo by Dan Schlossberg

That’s what Junior told a Doubleday Field crowd in Cooperstown Monday at an informal discussion moderated by Peter Gammons of MLB Network.

With fellow inductee Mike Piazza at his side, Griffey talked at length about Ichiro, now concluding his career with the Miami Marlins.

“When he came over here, he had a bad spring and Lou Piniella said ‘I can’t believe he came over here to do this. He’s not going to play for me,'” Griffey remembered. “But I knew how good he was. I watched him do things I wish I could do. He has a lot more power than he shows too.”

Ichiro, a legend in Japan before coming stateside, shrugged off his bad spring with a spectacular first season in 2001. In fact, he joined Fred Lynn as the only men to win Rookie of the Year and Most valuable Player honors in the same season.

“He’s got the body of a 12-year-old gymnast,” Piazza said of Ichiro. “We (the Dodgers) went on tour over there after the World Series one year and I couldn’t believe he was the national treasure of Japan. He looked like a little kid. But I knew he was going to be great in the United States.”

A 5’9″ lefthanded hitter who turns 43 in October, Ichiro is finishing with a flourish. For those willing to combine his Japanese and American totals, he already has the most hits in baseball history. And he’s about to vault into the 3,000 hit club in the U.S. majors, thanks primarily to his best season since 2009.

Ken Griffey and Mike Piazza with MLB Network's Peter Gammons Monday. Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Ken Griffey and Mike Piazza with MLB Network’s Peter Gammons Monday. Photo: Dan Schlossberg

Miami manager Don Mattingly has found ample playing time for the two-time batting champion even though Ichiro began the season as his fourth outfielder.

Had he been part of the National League All-Star squad that scored a measly two runs in San Diego earlier this month, the Senior Circuit might have changed the outcome. He remains the only man to hit an inside-the-park home run in All-Star play (San Francisco 2007).

The .314 batting average that belonged to Ichiro before this season started is even likely to increase — along with his Hall of Fame chances.

Now that he’s in the gallery himself, Griffey says he’d like Edgar Martinez to join him. The seven-time All-Star had 309 home runs to go with a .312 lifetime average but served mainly as a designated hitter. That might be working against him.

Some players have to bide their time for entrance, however. Jim Rice, for example, made it on his 15th and final year on the ballot.

Griffey coasted in, receiving a record percentage of the vote the first time he was eligible. As a result, he

The 2016 Hall of Fame logo. Credit: Dan Schlossberg

2016 Hall of Fame logo.
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

became the first top draft pick to reach Cooperstown.

Piazza was at the other end, a 62nd-rounder with 1,389 players picked ahead of him.

“I may have been gifted but gifted people still have to work,” Griffey told a sea of Seattle fans at Doubleday Field. He admitted his only regret was missing the World Series, a void shared by 25 other Hall of Famers. Piazza made it in 2000 when the Mets played the Yankees in a Subway Series.

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Chicago Cubs are convinced that acquiring Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will allow them to win

Aroldis Chapman brings his fearsome fastball to the North Side of Chicago

Aroldis Chapman brings his fearsome fastball to the North Side of Chicago

their first World Series since 1908 . . .

Melvin Upton, Jr. should thrive with the homer-friendly Rogers Centre as his new home following a trade from San Diego . . .

Bedeviled by injuries to their rotation, the Los Angeles Dodgers seem prepared to swap five prospects for disgruntled White Sox southpaw Chris Sale, a strikeout machine . . .

Look for the Milwaukee Brewers to move All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the highest bidder before the August 1 trade deadline.

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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