Ichiro being shut down on basepaths
Outfielder has attempted just one steal since July 5
ARLINGTON -- When Ichiro Suzuki stole second base in a game against the Tigers on July 5, it was his 34th theft of the season, keeping him ahead of the pace to break the Mariners' single-season record.He has attempted just one steal since then, however, and all of a sudden, Harold Reynolds' record of 60, swiped in 1987, now appears less likely to be broken than a month ago. It isn't so much that Ichiro -- who had a career-high 56 stolen bases in 2001 -- has stopped trying to steal bases, but according to interim manager Jim Riggleman, opposing pitchers are not letting him run as much now as they did earlier in the season. As the bench coach for former manager John McLaren, Riggleman had a stop watch, and would time a pitcher's move to first base. Even now, as the team's manager, he still times the moves. "There were a lot of 1.27 and 1.32 [seconds] readings," he said. "But lately, it has been 1.18 to 1.2 and that's real quick. And we have run into a lot of lefties." Seattle has faced six lefty starters in its last 10 games. The combination of having opposing pitchers use the slide-step, which allows them to throw a quick pitch, and having so many left-handers on the mound, has made it difficult for any Seattle runners to steal bases. The last time Ichiro tried to swipe a base was in the 12th inning of a 15-inning game against the Tigers. Ivan Rodriguez made a terrific throw to nail him.
Ichiro has stood his ground while on base ever since getting picked off by Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz in the first inning last Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.While Ichiro has pretty much been stopped in his basestealing tracks of late, most of the Mariners' theft prowess has come from Willie Bloomquist. Bloomquist entered Monday 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts this month and has been successful in his past 11 theft tries. He currently ranks second on the team to Ichiro with 13 stolen bases. As a team, the Mariners are fourth in the American League, with 69 stolen bases and fourth in caught-stealing, with 18.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.