Manager John McLaren said he will challenge Suzuki to steal 80 bases and hit .400 this year, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
For Ichiro to steal 80 bases, he'll have to take many more chances on the basepaths, something the cautious player isn't quick to do. And hit .400? "There�s not anything Ichiro can�t do," McLaren said. "He had 262 hits, and I put it to him, 'If you had 15 more bunt hits, you would have hit .400.' He looked at me. He was thinking hard, and if anyone is capable of hitting .400, it�s Ichiro. I just planted a seed."
Yeah he was thinking hard. He was thinking hard to try and figure out if you were joking or if you were just nuts. Some more gems from the article:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whatever their offseason produces – and the Seattle Mariners and most everyone else were shut out again Wednesday – manager John McLaren has ambitious expectations for 2008.
Like 80 stolen bases from Ichiro Suzuki. Like 40 home runs from Richie Sexson. Like an improved starting rotation that should take pressure off the Mariners bullpen. Like Jose Lopez maturing into a consistent player.
As stunning as any of that, McLaren plans on trying to get the hitters in his lineup to work the count on pitchers, not just to drive up their pitch counts but to put Mariners in “hitters’ counts” such as 2-0, 2-1.
With one exception.
“One player has got a hall pass,” McLaren said, breaking up a group of writers and media types.
“I think I mentioned last year when someone asked about Ichiro swinging at bad pitches, ‘Well, when you hit .360, you swing at bad pitches, too,” McLaren said.
Ichiro, he said, will be challenged this year not only to steal 80 bases – “minimum” – but to drop enough bunts to give himself a chance to bat .400.
I'm all for setting lofty goals but a .400 average with 42% more sb's than Ichiro's ever gotten as a FLOOR?!? Dang...McLaren's got expectations like Bill Belichick.