Girardi unsure how Yankees will use Ichiro

Girardi unsure how Yankees will use Ichiro

TAMPA, Fla. -- There are a number of roles that Ichiro Suzuki may be able to fill for the Yankees this season, but manager Joe Girardi is uncertain how he will use the 40-year-old outfielder.

"He's going to compete for playing time," Girardi said. "This is a guy that has been a great player for a long, long time, and has a lot of pride in what he's done, and I have a ton of respect for what he's done and what he does now. We've added some pieces, and I can't tell you exactly what the breakdown is going to be."

Earlier this spring, Ichiro shared the reaction he had after learning that the Yankees had added Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to their outfield: "Oops!"

The Yankees also have Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano in the mix, making it possible that Ichiro could be asked to serve as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement off the bench.

"Obviously with the additions, I'm going to have to find a place for myself, but I've worked hard this offseason and I've worked on a lot of things," Ichiro said.

Girardi said that asking Ichiro to fill a diminished role is not easy, considering his storied playing career.

"You try to be as fair as you can to everyone on the club, because you know that you need at least 25 guys, and you usually need more throughout the course of the season," Girardi said. "You just talk to them, [tell him] this is what we're thinking, and just try to prepare him for exactly when he's going to play."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.