Derek Jeter is no stranger to the New York Yankees making surprise trades for aging ball players in the middle of the season but it sounds like the Yankee's captain has given his full blessing to the swap for Ichiro Suzuki.
Jeter has played with Ichiro on nine All-Star teams, but Monday night marked the first time the two future Hall-of-Famers played together in Yankees' uniforms. The former Seattle Mariner just walked across the infield at Safeco Field, into the Yankees' locker room and put the pinstripes (alright, road grays) on when the trade was finalized.
"We've made a lot of trades throughout the years," Jeter said. "Start with my first year when we got Cecil Fielder, there have been a lot of guys that came here that were unexpected and out of the blue. That's what you come to expect around here. That's why you don't listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable."
The Yankees' shortstop welcomed the deal and had nothing but good things to say about the 10-time All-star and 10-time Gold Glove winner.
"I've enjoyed playing against him for 11-12 years; he's someone I've always admired from afar," Jeter said. "I've had the opportunity to play with a lot of great players throughout the years. I'm looking forward to playing with him."
Ichiro— who requested a trade— lit up when he was asked how it felt to go to New York.
"I'm going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins," he said. "It's hard to contain my excitement."
Maybe the change will be enough to reignite the slumping outfielder's career. After a successful career in Japan, and compiling 10 straight 200-hit seasons, a .300-plus career average and an MVP award in the major leagues, Ichiro's numbers took a steep decline this season.
The prototypical leadoff batter took a backseat to Jeter— actually seven seats— and batted eighth last night. And he changed his jersey number from No. 51 to No. 31 to symbolize his new start (and out of respect to Bernie Williams).
"Sometimes a change of scenery helps," said Jeter. "Sometimes you get a little extra energy going to an other situation."