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M’s will announce Ichiro contract

From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners will officially announce today that they have signed Ichiro Suzuki to a contract extension that will keep the All-Star MVP from leaving in free agency this fall.

A Mariners official, who requested anonymity because the formal notification of the announcement was still pending, confirmed late Thursday night that the team will host an early afternoon press conference today. The deal is expected to be for five seasons after this one, which will take Ichiro to age 39 with the only major league team he’s known.

Immediately after Ichiro went 0 for 4 as the Mariners beat Detroit 3-2 to move a season-high 14 games better than .500, general manager Bill Bavasi entered the clubhouse and summoned his seventh-time All-Star into manager John McLaren’s office. The franchise cornerstone looked surprised that Bavasi wanted to see him, then dressed quickly into his jeans and rainbow-striped sneakers for a brief, closed-door chat.

When he emerged, Ichiro was asked if he had good news.

“You’ll find out sometime,” he said, smiling and repeating an answer that he gave before the game.

The seven-time All-Star was grinning most of the day at the commotion from news this week that he has agreed to the extension that seemed in doubt in spring training, when Ichiro declared he was curious to enter free agency for the first time.

McLaren said before the game that he hadn’t heard anything about an imminent announcement.

Ichiro hit the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history Tuesday night, winning unanimous MVP honors and helping the American League to a 5-4 victory.

He walked out of the dugout before the Mariners’ game against Detroit on Thursday night and tipped his cap to acknowledge the crowd’s standing ovation when he was recognized for the MVP performance.

The 33-year-old Ichiro is in the final year of a $41 million, four-year contract.

He set the single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004. He has collected at least 200 hits in each of his first six years in the majors.

Notes

M’s manager John McLaren said the club would meet today to discuss left-handed starter Horacio Ramirez’s return from the disabled list. Ramirez, who threw 78 pitches in a rookie-level minor league game Tuesday, would start Monday against Baltimore if he’s ready. … Eddie Rodriguez, manager of the Mariners’ Double-A West Tennessee team, is with the major league club for the homestand.

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