Ichiro Suzuki - Career in The United States - Seattle Mariners (2001-2012) - 2007–2008

2007–2008

In May and June, Ichiro hit in 25 consecutive games, breaking the previous Seattle Mariners record set by Joey Cora in 1997. Ichiro broke Tim Raines' American League record by stealing 41 consecutive bases without being caught. Ichiro extended the record to 45; the major league record of 50 belongs to Vince Coleman.

On July 10, 2007, he became the first player to hit an inside-the-park home run in any MLB All-Star Game after an unpredictable hop off the right field wall of AT&T Park in San Francisco. It was the first inside-the-park home run of Ichiro's professional career. Ichiro was a perfect 3-for-3 in the game and was named the Most Valuable Player in the American League's 5–4 victory.

2007 marked the end of Ichiro's second contract with the Mariners, and he initially told MLB.com that he would likely enter the free agent market, citing the team's lack of success in recent years. However, in July Ichiro signed a five-year contract extension with Seattle. The deal was reported to be worth $90 million, consisting of a $17 million annual salary and $5 million signing bonus. The Associated Press reported that Ichiro's contract extension defers $25 million of the $90 million at 5.5% interest until after his retirement, with payments through 2032. Other provisions in Ichiro's contract include a yearly housing allowance of more than $30,000, and four first-class round trip tickets to Japan each year for his family. He is provided with either a new Jeep or Mercedes SUV, as well as a personal trainer and interpreter.

On July 29, 2007, Ichiro collected his 1,500th U.S. hit, the third fastest to reach the MLB milestone behind Al Simmons and George Sisler. Ichiro had 213 hits in 2008, his eighth straight 200-hit season. This tied the 107-year-old record set by Wee Willie Keeler. Typically, Ichiro was among baseball's leaders in reaching base on an error (14 times in 2008, more than any other batter in the AL), and in infield hits (his 56 were the most in the majors). Ichiro has amassed more than 450 infield hits in his U.S. career. Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge told the New York Times, "I wish you could put a camera at third base to see how he hits the ball and see the way it deceives you. You can call some guys’ infield hits cheap, but not his. He has amazing technique." In May 2008, Ichiro stole two bases, giving him a career total of 292, surpassing the previous Seattle Mariners team record of 290 set by second baseman Julio Cruz. Cruz, who now does Spanish-language broadcasts of Mariners games, was watching from the broadcast booth as Ichiro broke his record.

On July 29, 2008 Ichiro became the youngest player to amass 3,000 top-level professional hits (1,278 in Japan + 1,722 in the U.S.), surpassing Ty Cobb. He also became just the second Japanese professional to get 3,000 hits. (Nippon Professional Baseball's record holder is Isao Harimoto, with 3,085 hits.) Ichiro has 538 stolen bases in his professional career, including 199 in Japan.

By 2008, it had emerged in the media that Ichiro was known within baseball for his tradition of exhorting the American League team with a profanity-laced pregame speech in the clubhouse prior to the MLB All-Star Game. Asked if the speech had had any effect on the AL's decade-long winning streak, Ichiro deadpanned, "I’ve got to say over 90 percent." Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau describes the effect: "If you’ve never seen it, it’s definitely something pretty funny. It’s hard to explain, the effect it has on everyone. It’s such a tense environment. Everyone’s a little nervous for the game, and then he comes out. He doesn’t say a whole lot the whole time he’s in there, and all of a sudden, the manager gets done with his speech, and he pops off.” Boston's slugger David Ortiz says simply, "It’s why we win."

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