SEATTLE -- This is Ichiro Suzuki's first visit to Safeco Field since the trade last July that moved him from the home clubhouse to the visitor's clubhouse the last time the Yankees were in town. It will be interesting to see what the crowd reaction is to the man who played 12 years here but requested a trade and waived his no-trade clause to come to the Yankees. Last July, the crowd here gave Ichiro a prolonged standing ovation when he came to bat for the first time as a Yankee.
Joe Girardi, for one, said he expected a similar demonstration for Ichiro tonight.
"I don't think people have forgotten what he's done. He was special," Girardi said. "My guess is he’ll be able to soak it in a little bit more, how much they appreciated him here. Things happened kind of quickly last year when he got traded over here. He meant a lot to this franchise for a long time and he was a great player here for a long time, so I hope he soaks it in a little bit."
Ichiro agreed that last year's trade was a whirlwind of emotions for him, a feeling that hasn't entirely faded a year later.
"It just really feels weird," Ichiro said about returning to Seattle as a visiting player. "I haven’t been out in the field yet. But obviously I know this place really well, and am really close to it. At the same time, I kinda feel distant. It just feels really weird to me."
Fear the King: Raul Ibanez, who still bears a strong resemblance to the King of Siam even in a Mariners uniform, and the sight of him should inspire terror in at least one Yankee -- tonight's starter, Phil Hughes. On May 15 at Yankee Stadium, Ibanez belted a first-inning grand slam off Hughes in the Mariners 12-2 victory, and although he has only faced Hughes three times in his career, he's made the most of his at-bats, going 3-for-3 with 2 HRs. Ibanez, who turned 41 on June 2, is hitting only .239 but has 11 HRs and 30 RBI.
Useful in Seattle: Hughes, 4-3 overall vs. the Mariners, has never lost at Safeco Field going 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA here. The last time he started at Safeco, on Sept. 12, 2011, Hughes allowed one run and five hits i a 9-3 Yankees victory.
Going Overboard: Seattle starter Aaron Harang has never faced the Yankees as a team, but he has faced a handful of the newer members of the team. One, in particular, has had his way with Harang -- Lyle Overbay, who is 11-for-24 lifetime against him (.458).