With Stanton out, Ichiro up for challenge

Veteran, who had served as Miami's 4th outfielder, starts in right while team weighs options

With Stanton out, Ichiro up for challenge

CINCINNATI -- The resurgence of Ichiro Suzuki has been one of the most entertaining storylines of the season for the Marlins. His quest for 3,000 hits received worldwide coverage, and now, once again, the 42-year-old is in the spotlight.

This time, Ichiro is drawing interest because he's being asked to go from bench player to Miami's starting right fielder. Giancarlo Stanton's Grade 3 groin strain has prompted manager Don Mattingly to give more playing time to the 30th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits.

"It doesn't mean we're going to run him out there 18 days in a row," Mattingly said. "We're going to give him his days and we're going to keep him fresh."

Ichiro memorabilia at the HOF

Stanton has an outside chance of playing again this year, because the club says that under the best-case scenario, he'd be back in six weeks. Even if it is for a few games, that could be critical if the postseason races go down to the wire.

In the meantime, Ichiro will see more time in right field as the organization considers all its options before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline.

Carlos Gomez, designated by the Astros, is a possibility. A couple of other potential targets are Jeff Francoeur (Braves) and Gerardo Parra (Rockies). Xavier Scruggs and Cole Gillespie are candidates to be promoted from Triple-A New Orleans.

For now, Ichiro is ready to handle playing every day.

"Obviously, as a fourth outfielder, you're preparing yourself to get in there," Ichiro said through his translator. "Unfortunately, injuries are one of them. So you have to be ready when that time comes. I can't say that I'm going to come in and replace Giancarlo to what he did. But I can do what I can to fill that void."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.