Ichiro welcomes hostilities of postseason

Ichiro welcomes hostilities of postseason

Ichiro welcomes hostilities of postseason
BALTIMORE -- It has been a long time coming, but veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki finally finds himself in the middle of another postseason.

Ichiro will go down as one of the greatest international players of all time, but his playoff resume is still somewhat bare after having spent so much time with the Seattle Mariners.

When Ichiro took the field for Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles on Sunday night, it marked the first time since 2001 he was able to take part in a postseason game.

"The atmosphere of the stadium was obviously different, and I didn't know how I was going to react," Ichiro said prior to Game 2 on Monday. "But I didn't think that I wouldn't be able to control my excitement, and that wasn't the case -- maybe because I'm with the Yankees and just the atmosphere that we have at the Stadium."

Ichiro set a number of records during his first -- and only -- postseason experience with the Mariners 11 years ago. He managed to hit .600 (12-for-20) in the ALDS against the Indians, which marked the highest average for any series that lasted five games.

It was also the best career average for any player with at least 20 postseason at-bats. Overall, Ichiro reached base in all 10 postseason games he played with Seattle, and his personal streak was extended to 12 after recording an RBI double in the first inning of Game 1 and a single in the third inning of Game 2.

More than anything, Ichiro seemed to enjoy the hostile environment at a sold- out Camden Yards. It's something that often can be found only during a postseason series with plenty on the line.

"What I felt yesterday was, you come on the road and you get booed by the fans, but that felt really good," Ichiro said. "I think a lot of players got booed last night, but it just felt really good to get booed on the road."

Ichiro's career appeared to be in decline until he was acquired by the Yankees in a late-July trade for a pair of right-handed pitching prospects. The 12-year veteran appeared rejuvenated by the move and almost immediately turned around what had been a disappointing season.

After the trade, the 38-year-old proceeded to hit .322 (73-for-227) with 28 runs scored and 19 extra-base hits in 67 games. He also provided much-needed versatility while filling in for the injured Brett Gardner, splitting his time in left field (26 games), right (24) and center (5).

"It seemed to work out really well for both him and us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the deal. "I think he's comfortable where he's at. I think he is around the guys a lot more that are his age group and his peer group, in a sense.

"We've given him some days off, so I think he's remained fresh. He has not had to have been the focal point of the lineup and been the guy that's expected to produce a lot. He just needs to be part of what's a really deep lineup, and I think he's really enjoyed it."