Veteran Ichiro returns for Mariners swansong


Los Angeles (AFP)

Japanese veteran Ichiro Suzuki has rejoined the Seattle Mariners on a one-year deal, marking an emotional return to the franchise where he launched his Major League Baseball career.

The 44-year-old outfielder, who has more hits than any overseas player in Major League history, has joined for a reported $750,000 (604,000 euros), potentially rising to $2 million depending on performance.

"The addition of Ichiro gives our team another versatile and athletic outfielder," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement.

"His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways.

"He's truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his unquestionable presence is a valuable addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

"We're very glad to bring him back home."

Ichiro spent more than a decade in Seattle between 2001 and 2012 before stints with the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.

He was released by the Marlins in November after the Florida club declined to take up a $2 million option.

In July last year, Ichiro passed Rod Carew for most hits in Major League history by a foreign-born player.

Ichiro has 3,080 major league hits but started only 22 games last season. He batted .255 with three homers and 20 RBIs.

He sits 22nd on the league's all-time hit list.

Ichiro, who owns a .312 career batting average, enjoyed his best seasons with the Mariners. He batted over .300 10 times in 11-plus seasons in Seattle and set the major league record with 262 hits in 2004.