Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said next season's series between his club and the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo, Japan from March 20-21 presents a great opportunity for the Japanese superstar to return to the playing field.
"There's a strong likelihood that you will see Ichiro next year suit up, particularly in Tokyo," Dipoto told MLB Network Radio. "It's a great opportunity for the Mariners, for Ichiro, for Major League Baseball, and for the NPBL."
The Mariners announced Thursday that the 44-year-old would transition into the role of a special assistant to the chairman of the organization and would not return to the active roster in 2018. However, Suzuki will continue to travel with the team and provide mentorship.
After making that announcement, Dipoto mentioned that he would not close the door on Ichiro returning to play in 2019, which aligns with what he said Sunday.
"You're talking about one of the iconic players in the history of baseball and a legend in two countries, if not really the world," Dipoto added. "The presence he has globally in baseball is just too much to pass up and I think it's just good for everybody."
Before his North American debut in 2001, Ichiro spent nine seasons with the Orix BlueWave in Japan, where he recorded 1,278 hits, 658 runs scored, and posted a .353/.421/.522 slash line.
If you combine his time in Japan with his 18 seasons in MLB, he has 4,367 hits to his credit and a lifetime batting average of .322.