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Ichiro ends slump

Fri., March 14, 2008

Ichiro Suzuki was bound to get a hit again. It finally happened Thursday.

The perennial All-Star and hit machine got his first of the spring while his Seattle Mariners tied the San Francisco Giants 3-3 in 10 innings.

“We can all sleep tonight,” M’s manager John McLaren said, chuckling.

Ichiro’s 0 for 21, one short of his career-long slump in the regular season from 1995, had become an international curiosity. The pack of Japanese media who chronicle Ichiro’s every move had been breathless over the drought. McLaren made daily jokes about it. Ichiro said it was “fun” because it gave him an unusual early-season challenge.

“I’m not sure what my next challenge is,” he said through his interpreter after the pseudo-breakthrough. “I’m sad to say goodbye.”

His fun ended with an infield single in the first inning that was a routine chop a few steps to the left of Giants second baseman Eugenio Velez.

No surprise with M’s cuts

Canadian teenager Phillippe Aumont, the 11th overall draft choice last June, was the most notable name among the 12 Mariners prospects sent to minor league camp. Aumont, the right-hander whose contract included a $1.9 million signing bonus, impressed Seattle with a powerful, scoreless inning in a B game against San Diego earlier this month. He then allowed three runs while getting only one out in a game Sunday against Arizona.

Seattle has 44 players, with 19 more needing to be cut before the season opener March 31.

Also sent out: pitchers Brodie Downs, Stephen Kahn and Robert Rohrbaugh; catchers Jair Fernandez, Adam Moore and Brant Ust; outfielder Bronson Sardinha, and infielder Mark Kiger. All were reassigned to minor league camp.

Schilling on disabled list

The Boston Red Sox placed Curt Schilling on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to rehabilitate his right shoulder.

They also released Doug Mirabelli, who had been the personal catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and sent five players to the minors. Moving Schilling to the disabled list cleared space for Boston to sign right-hander Lincoln Holdzkom to its 40-man roster.

Releasing Mirabelli made room for Kevin Cash, who showed last year that he can catch Wakefield.

Clearing the bases

The St. Louis Cardinals strengthened their thin rotation, reaching a preliminary agreement with pitcher Kyle Lohse on a $4.25 million, one-year contract. General manager John Mozeliak said the 29-year-old Lohse was flying in from California and would undergo a physical today at the team’s spring training site in Jupiter, Fla. … Former Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe has colon cancer and will undergo chemotherapy and surgery. Sutcliffe, a baseball analyst for ESPN, was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer after taking a routine test during a physical, the network said. … Jameson Sutton, a 24-year-old from Boulder, Colo., who snared the baseball Barry Bonds hit for career homer No. 762, has decided to come forward with the ball after hiding it in his closet and then a safety deposit box. Sutton has hired SCP Auctions to run an online auction that starts March 31 and could fetch as much as $1 million.


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