Next week's series in Japan to open the MLB season could be the last time Ichiro Suzuki dons a baseball uniform, but the 45-year-old isn't ready to answer questions about his retirement plans just yet.
When asked on Saturday if he'd call it a career following the two-game set between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome on March 20 and 21, the 10-time All-Star wouldn't confirm.
"I have no idea when I will know that," he said, according to Stephen Wade of The Associated Press. "I'm not used to questions like that.
"This is a great gift for me," he continued. "I will treasure every moment here on the field. One week after this event, I will be reflecting back on these days, so I will make sure I remember every moment here in Japan."
Ichiro, who hit just .080 in spring training before the Mariners departed for Japan, will be part of a special 28-man roster for the series. The veteran outfielder understands the privilege of playing in his home country again and he doesn't plan to let the fans down.
"Based on my spring training, I shouldn’t be here," Ichiro explained. "You can never predict what is going to happen based on spring training. Now I am back in Japan, and (a) country I love, to show what I can still do."
The Mariners don't seem ready to provide information about their plans for Ichiro after the Japan Series, either.
"We’re really taking it a day at a time," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We’re looking at the two games here against Oakland. He’ll be available in those two games and we’ll see how it goes.
"Well take it from there," he added. "He’s had an unbelievable career."
If Ichiro were to retire, he'll conclude his illustrious 27-year career with 4,367 hits - combined between Japan and MLB - and would be a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.