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Ichiro takes his cuts

Ichiro Suzuki loosens up before Thursday’s  game.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Ichiro Suzuki loosens up before Thursday’s game. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Ichiro Suzuki looked like his All-Star self while going 7 for 10 in an extended spring training game at Peoria, Ariz., his first action since a bleeding ulcer sidelined the Seattle Mariners outfielder.

Playing against minor leaguers in an intrasquad game, he purposely avoided sliding while getting thrown out at home. He was put on the disabled list last Friday for the first time in his career.

While his rebuilding Mariners were winning the finale of their season-opening series at Minnesota, the perennial Gold Glove outfielder led off every half-inning of the shortened game.

The 35-year-old remains on track to be activated from the DL on Wednesday, before the Mariners’ second home game of the season.

“Well, it was the first game I’ve played in 10 days. It always feels good to play in games,” Ichiro said through a translator. “I am very appreciative of the young players who were willing to play with me today.

“It’s not like I haven’t been playing all winter.”

Ichiro hit .273 to lead Japan to the 2009 World Baseball Classic title. He had the winning, two-out, two-run single in a 5-3, 10-inning victory over Korea in the championship game March 24.

Asked if his ulcer remained an issue, Ichiro said: “It if was, I wouldn’t be playing.”

Pitcher suspended

St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher Deryk Hooker was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for drug abuse under the sport’s minor league program.

The 19-year-old from San Diego was 0-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts last season at Quad Cities of the Class A Midwest League.

Earlier in the 2008 season, he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and one save in eight starts and three relief appearances at Johnson City of the Appalachian League.

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