Thompson: Ichiro's return to Mariners won't resolve his inner battle
From Wright Thompson at ESPN.com on March 7, 2018:
Ichiro Suzuki steps out of the cold into the small restaurant that serves him dinner most nights. It's winter in Kobe, Japan, where he once played professional baseball and where he comes during the offseason to train. His wife, Yumiko, is back home in Seattle. He is here alone, free from the untidy bits of domestic life that might break his focus. Every day, he works out in a professional stadium he rents, and then he usually comes to this restaurant, which feels like a country inn transported to the city. It's tucked away on the fifth floor of a downtown building and accessible by a tiny elevator. Someone on the staff meets Ichiro at the back door so he can slip in unseen. Someone else rushes to take his coat, and Ichiro sits at a small bar with his back to the rest of the diners. Two friends join him. Inside the warm and glowing room, the chef slips on his traditional coat as he greets Ichiro in mock surprise.
"Thanks for coming again," says the chef, wearing Miami Marlins shorts.
"You guys made me wait outside," Ichiro jokes.
Ichiro is a meticulous man, held in orbit by patterns and attention to detail. This place specializes in beef tongue, slicing it thin by hand and serving it raw alongside hot cast-iron skillets. They do one thing perfectly, which appeals to Ichiro. Tonight he's got dark jeans rolled up to the calf, each leg even, and a gray T-shirt under a white button-down with a skinny tie. His hair looks darker than in some recent photos, maybe the lighting, maybe a dye job. Either way, not even a 44-year-old future Hall of Famer is immune from the insecurities and diminishments that come with time. This winter is the most insecure and diminished he's been.
This page was last updated March 7, 2018 at 12:19 pm MST.