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John E. Gibson

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Like old times for Tigers' Messenger

by John E. Gibson (Mar 26, 2012)

Former Seattle hurler Randy Messenger said it was great to meet up with some of his old teammates on the Seattle Mariners, here to play the Major League Baseball Opening Series this week against the Oakland Athletics.

And the Hanshin Tigers right-hander, scheduled to start today's game against the A's, said having a chat with Ichiro Suzuki was a must-do.

"You've got to talk to Ichiro. He was one of my teammates," said Messenger, who played with the Japanese icon while in the Seattle organization in 2008 and '09.

He said their conversation was centered on mutual respect.

"He was just happy I was having success over here, and I told him I just wanted him to get back to his normal Ichiro self," said Messenger, who was 12-7 with a 2.88 ERA last season for the Tigers.

Suzuki is coming off a season in which he batted .272, the lowest--and first below .300--since becoming a regular with the Orix BlueWave in 1994.

"Being a part of Ichiro's 10 consecutive years of 200 hits is pretty awesome," said Messenger, a 30-year-old righty entering his third season with Hanshin.

The Tigers had originally wanted him to start Sunday, but rainouts forced Hanshin to adjust its rotation. Still, Messenger said he was anxious to see big league teams play in person. And he, like many of the fans at Tokyo Dome, also wanted to see how the Japanese players fared.

"Of course watching Ichiro is always a pleasure, and I want to see how [Munenori] Kawasaki does today," he said of the former Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks star.


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