Suzuki has All-Star game to remember Print
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Tuesday, 10 July 2007 22:51
MLB Headline News

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Ichiro Suzuki suggested one way he might be able to pull off inside-the-park homers on a regular basis.
``If I'm allowed to hit .220, I could probably hit 40,'' he said, ``but nobody wants that.''
No, his Seattle bosses probably wouldn't approve of that from their star leadoff hitter - even if it worked beautifully in the All-Star game.
Suzuki 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's got a contract extension in the works, and now a new SUV to drive as a gift for his latest great performance.
``It's one that I'll never forget,'' Suzuki said. ``The past six years, I never had an All-Star that I really thought I gave it my all or was able to give it my all. So, I'm really happy. It was a fun All-Star game.''
He certainly showed the Mariners why they would want to keep him around for the long haul.
Suzuki never hit an inside-the-park homer during his career back home in Japan.
``I thought it was going over the fence,'' Suzuki said. ``When it didn't, I was bummed out.''
Everybody else loved it.
His go-ahead, two-run drive off San Diego's Chris Young took a crazy bounce off the right-field wall.
``That was sweet,'' Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. ``That ball is a double and he turns it into more.''
Suzuki, second in the majors with a .359 average, already had three hits by the sixth inning.
While Barry Bonds was the talk of this All-Star game, Suzuki's new deal in the works brought him some added attention on the AL side before the game.
Then, the inside-the-park homer became one of the highlights in San Francisco's typically pitcher-friendly park.
``Man, that was fun,'' AL teammate C.C. Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians said. ``It was exciting to see.''
The Mariners just might be eager to get Suzuki signed as soon as possible considering the show he put on for the baseball world Tuesday night.
``We're still talking but we're not at the point where we have anything to announce,'' said Suzuki's agent, Tony Attanasio.
Suzuki, who started in center field and batted leadoff, would not say when a deal might be reached. The Mariners had no comment.
``Whatever happens, everybody will know in the future, whenever that might be,'' Suzuki said through an interpreter before batting practice. ``Maybe three hours from now, maybe after the season. I'm done for today (on the topic).''
The Seattle Times reported on its Web site Tuesday that the extension could pay the two-time AL batting champion and 2001 AL MVP close to $100 million over five years.
``Much dinero,'' said Suzuki's AL teammate, Victor Martinez. ``Lots of money.''
The 33-year-old Suzuki is in the final year of a $41 million, four-year contract. The seven-time All-Star said during spring training that he planned to test his value on the free agent market this winter.
But he has changed his stance in recent weeks, certainly in part because the Mariners are playing well. They put together a strong and surprising first half, entering the All-Star break with a 49-36 record and just 2 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Suzuki also has 61 runs, 128 hits, 39 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
Suzuki set the single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004. He has gotten at least 200 hits in each of his first six years in the majors.
His willingness to stay in Seattle also might have become stronger since the abrupt resignation of manager Mike Hargrove on July 1. Hargrove said his ``passion has begun to fade.''
The relationship between Suzuki and Hargrove was tenuous at times, but both insisted their differences were in the past. Hargrove insisted his decision to step down had nothing to do with any disputes with players or the front office.
The Mariners promoted bench coach John McLaren for the rest of the year. He and Suzuki get along well and developed a strong relationship during Suzuki's rookie year in 2001. Seattle matched a major league record with an AL-best 116 wins that year, and Suzuki was named AL Rookie of the Year and MVP.
He had a club-record 25-game hitting streak in June and hit safely in 55 of his last 59 games before the All-Star break.
``He's an artist with the bat,'' NL manager Tony La Russa said. ``Wonderful baserunner, outfielder. This guy is a complete player and (there's) no place to go to get him out.''
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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and Associated Press Writer Tim Booth contributed to this story.
 

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