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Ichiro excited about second half

Ichiro in Detroit, thinking of Seattle

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DETROIT -- Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki solemnly stated his second-half goal in Japanese to his interpreter, Allen Turner:

"The goal is to go 70-6."

The laughter the answer brought snapped Ichiro into English:

"Why you laughing?"

Ichiro arrived Monday in preparation for his fifth All-Star Game looking as, well, pretty as a baseball player would care to look.

The hair was curled in all the right places. He wore a rugged but stylish tan sport coat and a white dress shirt open just enough to reveal his cross medallion. Not many dudes can pull off a wide, white belt and jeans ripped at the thigh like him.

But Ichiro plays like a player who has more on him mind than primping. He's up for a fight -- the one that he hopes will pull the Mariners out of last place in the American League West.

Ichiro believes he and the Mariners are regaining the optimism that existed before the season began.

Seattle has won six of its last eight, a stretch that ended with a four-game road sweep of the Angels. The teams' rise followed Ichiro's.

Ichiro has an 11-game hit streak during which he has raised his batting average 17 points, to .311.

"We believed that we can win; that kind of fell apart," he said. "But through the last four games, I think that we're believing again. Hopefully everything will come together and we'll have a good second half."

In 2004, Ichiro stroked 262 hits to finish five ahead of George Sisler's 84-year-old record. He was making a different kind of history last month, when his average dipped below .300 for the first time in 13 months. As a result, Tuesday will be the first time that he was not chosen as a starter for the Midsummer Classic.

All-Star Game 2005

But Ichiro's current streak, during which he has hit .432 (19-for-44), has brought his hits total to 113 after 87 games. He's already the only player with four seasons of 200 or more hits.

Set a hit records once and some people expect a guy to do the stuff all the time.

But actually, Ichiro doesn't mind.

"That's not something for me to try to do, but it's not hard for people to think that way about it," he said. "I'd rather have people say, 'He can break that record,' rather than people saying, 'I wonder if he can get 150 hits this year.'

"It's a better way of looking at it."

This comes from a guy who doesn't think seemingly impossible standards are funny.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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