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Ichiro gets first regular-season start in left

Ichiro gets first regular-season start in left

Ichiro gets first regular-season start in left
NEW YORK -- Ichiro Suzuki had the past week to get acclimated to left field at Yankee Stadium by shagging balls during batting practice, and he got his first start Wednesday against the Orioles in his new position.

The 10-time Gold Glove Award winner spent nearly all of his time playing right field in Seattle, with his other starts coming in center field. The only time he played left field was Oct. 22, 2001, in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium -- his last postseason game.

Manager Joe Girardi said Ichiro would play left field for New York from the moment it acquired him, but the move was delayed with right fielder Nick Swisher often out of the lineup or serving as designated hitter with a strained left hip flexor. Swisher was again the designated hitter in the series finale against Baltimore, but with fly-ball pitcher Phil Hughes on the mound, Girardi started Ichiro in the more spacious left field, and moved Andruw Jones to right.

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"There might be a little adjustment, but we're not really going to know until you get him out there in a game situation," Girardi said. "You can take all the balls off the bat in batting practice as you want, but it's going to be different in a game situation. With all his experience, we feel like he can do it and he'll do a good job.

"With our ballpark being a much bigger left field, it just made sense."

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