Ichiro will try to make best of 5th OF spot


TAMPA, Fla. -- When Joe Girardi discussed his outfield the other day, he said he had four solid bats. He didn't name them, but he obviously meant Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano.

Left out presumably was Ichiro Suzuki.

Ichiro showed up on Wednesday as a man without a real spot on the team. Eventually, there could be injuries that open things up for him. But as things stand now, Ichiro would find more playing time someplace else.

Would he want to be dealt?

"I'm not going to fall for questions like that," said a laughing Ichiro via interpreter.

Ichiro, 40, said he has done his part by coming into camp in shape, and now he will see how it plays out. He was not going to follow Derek Jeter and announce any retirement plans on Wednesday.

"I was really shocked -- as I think were a lot of people. I didn't want to believe it," Ichiro said of Jeter's announcement. "I was actually shocked that he was doing Facebook. That was something I was really shocked about."

Ichiro has 2,742 MLB hits, making 3,000 hits in the bigs an outside possibility if he can find some playing time.

"At this point right now, it is not something I'm thinking about," Ichiro said. "If it gets closer and something that I can reach, then you probably start thinking about it. You are more aware of it. Right now, I'm definitely not thinking about it."

Ichiro, who was always the star in Seattle, is now the third-most important Japanese player on the Yankees after Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka. Ichiro and Tanaka were teammates on the 2009 WBC, but they don't know each other very well.

Ichiro -- who's accustomed to being trailed by the media -- said if Tanaka asked him for advice on how to handle the media attention, he would surely give it to him.

Ichrio is in the final season of his two-year, $13 million deal.