His relief was unmistakable when told of the news from Peoria, Ariz.: Ichiro Suzuki, his friend and former teammate with the Orix Blue Wave, recorded his first Cactus League hit Wednesday against the Giants' Kevin Correia to snap an 0-for-22 skid.
"Really?" Taguchi said. "I must call to congratulate him. I was getting worried."
He wasn't, really. Taguchi struggled to remember a drought that long for Ichiro, who owns a career .355 average in nine Pacific League seasons, eight of which he spent playing alongside Taguchi. Ichiro has also hit .333 in seven Major League seasons and is the all-time single-season hits leader.
After ending his slump by legging out an infield single to second base, Ichiro joked that he would "send the ball to Cooperstown," and said, "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."
Taguchi, and likely most of the league, didn't expect Ichiro's bat to stay quiet much longer.
"I figured he was saving up his hits [by not getting them in Spring Training]," Taguchi said. "That way he can get 300 during the season."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less