A little more than a week remains in the first month of the regular season, which gives the seven-time All-Star and two-time American League batting champion plenty of time to raise his average close to the .333 career mark he had entering his eighth season with the Mariners. And, as his MLB history shows, April tends to be his least-productive month.Ichiro has batted as high as .356, going 33-for-101 in 2005, and as low as .243, when he was 27-for-111 in '03. Regardless of what he hits in April, you can take it to the bank that he will end up with a .300-plus batting average at the end of the season and accumulate 200-something hits. McLaren, who was on the Mariners coaching staff in 2001 when Ichiro made his MLB debut, said the '08 Ichiro version is the same as the younger model in '01. "Nothing has changed," McLaren said. "He looks the same, the swing looks the same and he doesn't have any injuries. They are just making good pitches on him, but he always seems to respond when he encounters little bumps in the road. A couple of big games and that would be that."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less