Ichiro's leadoff days mostly behind him

Ichiro's leadoff days mostly behind him

DETROIT -- Joe Girardi has heard the cries that Ichiro Suzuki could serve as the Yankees' leadoff hitter, but the manager isn't strongly considering writing the veteran's name there on a consistent basis.

Girardi tried Ichiro as the leadoff hitter on July 25 in Seattle, with Derek Jeter hitting second, but the manager says that Ichiro figures as a better fit in the lower third of the Yankees' order.

"As much as you'd like to say he's getting on base 40 percent of the time, he's not," Girardi said. "It's about 31 percent of the time."

Indeed, Ichiro entered Tuesday's game against the Tigers with a .307 on-base percentage against right-handers. Girardi pointed out that Curtis Granderson, Jeter and Robinson Cano have all done a better job of getting on base against righties than Ichiro, who is batting .240 (12-for-50) with a home run and two RBIs through his first 13 games as a Yankee.

"If it were three or four years ago, it's probably a different story," Girardi said.