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Ichiro set to come off DL Wednesday

Ichiro set to come off DL Wednesday

SEATTLE -- The blood test Ichiro Suzuki took on Monday afternoon indicated the Mariners right fielder is ready to come off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, right on schedule.

"Everything with Ichiro looks fine, and he should be activated tomorrow," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said on Monday during his pregame media session. "But there are a couple of issues before deciding what we'll do."

The Mariners must make a corresponding roster move and the organization is waiting to see how healthy outfielder Wladimir Balentien's left wrist and elbow are before making a decision.

Balentien was injured while trying to make a diving catch in right field against the Athletics on Saturday in Oakland. He didn't play in Sunday's series finale but worked out on Monday at Safeco Field.

Balentien took batting practice on Tuesday. His status for Monday's home opener was not immediately known, but if he's still sore, there is a good chance that he would replace Ichiro on the 15-day DL. Seattle probably would either keep backup third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo on the roster or send him back to Triple-A Tacoma and promote another player to fill Balentien's spot.

Ichiro has completely recovered from the severe fatigue he experienced soon after joining the Mariners in Spring Training following the three-week World Baseball Classic. A bleeding ulcer was diagnosed as the cause of the fatigue and he had spent the past two weeks in Peoria, Ariz., recovering.

His workload has been gradually increased and although rain washed out his plans to play right field in an intrasquad game, he still managed to get 20 at-bats during two previous games against Mariners Minor League players.

When he returns to action, he will continue his pursuit of a hitting milestone for a Japan-born player.

The eight-time American League All-Star needs just three hits to become that country's all-time leader.

Ichiro enters the 2009 season with 2,349 hits with the Mariners. He accumulated 1,889 during his nine-year career in Japan with the Orix Blue Wave, batting .353 in Japan, compared to .331 with Seattle.

Isao Harimoto, the current record holder among Japanese players with 3,085 hits during a career that started in 1959 and ended in 1981, arrived in Seattle on Tuesday. He will be at Safeco Field beginning Wednesday night to watch Ichiro complete his pursuit of the record.

Jim Street 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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