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Ichiro's first spring hit inspires quips

Ichiro's first spring hit inspires quips

PEORIA, Ariz. -- All is normal again for the Mariners -- Ichiro Suzuki's hitless drought is history.

The seven-time All-Star ended an 0-for-March in the first inning Thursday afternoon when he legged out an infield single to second base, his first hit in 22 official at-bats. He grounded out his other three times, giving him a .040 batting average after his first eight Cactus League games.

"I'm not sure what my next challenge is," Ichiro said. "Today, my feeling is kind of sad. It's sad to say goodbye [to the hitless streak]. Part of me wishes it would have gone on a little longer."

The longest Spring Training skid in Ichiro's seven-plus seasons with the Mariners ended on a close play at first base during the Mariners' 10-inning, 3-3 standoff against the visiting Giants.

San Francisco first baseman Justin Leone dove to his right in an attempt to snag the ball, but never made contact, leaving second baseman Eugenio Velez and pitcher Kevin Correia to pull off a difficult play.

"At first, I stood there because it looked like a regular ground ball to the second baseman," Correia said. "The first thing that crossed my mind when I started running was, 'There's no way I'm beating this guy over there.' I think I might've gotten there before him, but I didn't get the ball quick enough. It's not the position you want to be in with Ichiro running."

Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin, standing on the top step of the third-base dugout at Peoria Stadium, motioned for the ball, but it remained in play.

"I was planning to keep the ball and send it to Cooperstown, but we couldn't get the ball back," said Ichiro, whose previous longest skid in Spring Training was 12 at-bats in 2002.

Ichiro advanced to second on an infield out and scored his second run of the spring when Raul Ibanez singled to center.

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Correia said he was well aware of the fact Ichiro entered the game without a hit.

"People were joking with me. I said, 'This guy gets 300 hits a year and hasn't gotten a hit yet and I've got to face him tomorrow.' Guys were saying, 'Oh, infield hit, guaranteed, first time.' He can run. He deserves those hits."

And that's exactly what happened.

"We can all sleep tonight," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "Ichiro got a hit. I don't care how good you are, it's always good to get your first hit. I think he'll be on his way now."

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

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }