Ichiro Suzukli, 45, has not retired.
He has often insisted that he would like to play until he is 50 years old.
The door is open for his return.
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto said that if healthy, Suzuki will be part of the 2019 opening-day roster.
Dipoto, like he did last year, said he will give the outfielder an opportunity when the club opens the season in Tokyo for a pair of games against the Oakland Athletics on March 20-21.
“Ichi will be on our team when we go to Tokyo,” Dipoto told MLB.com on Thursday. “He’ll be an active player. We are still committed to the idea of developing this roster.
“… But one thing I’ve learned with Ichiro, first of all, his preparation and focus is the best I’ve ever seen on any player I’ve ever encountered. His single-mindedness in achieving a goal is so real that I won’t put anything past him.”
The Mariners and Athletics will each be allowed to carry three extra players during the trip.
Suzuki last appeared in a major-league game in May of 2018. He batted .205 over 15 games and had 47 plate appearances before moving into a role as “assistant to the chairman” with the Mariners. Since moving to the front office, he continued to work out with the club.
However, several factors are still in play. Suzuki, a free agent, will have to sign with the Mariners, likely to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. And he has to remain healthy before being added to the 28-man roster.
Suzuki, a 10-time All-Star, has amassed a staggering 4,367 hits over his career in MLB and Japan and is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
“Frankly, if he rolls out in Tokyo and gets seven hits in two games, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll play a third game,” said Dipoto. “You have to adjust as you go. We’re not going to predetermine anything. We’ll give him the opportunity to come in and do what he does, and prepare the way he prepares.”