"There was a time when we hit an ebb," team president Chuck Armstrong said. "When things didn't happen in spring training, we pretty much agreed that we would put things on hiatus until the latter part of May. Ichiro told us he just wanted to focus on the season and he didn't want this to be a distraction for him, the team or the organization. We observed that. Then we started talking in late May and June."
During that time, Suzuki said he considered several factors, especially the direction the Mariners were headed as a team. With the team contending for first place in the AL West, that question has been answered. "If you look at the potential on this team, you can understand why the record is what it is right now," he said. "Now we're at a place where all the hard work is blossoming. I can see this team continuing to be good."
TIGERS 6, MARINERS 3: Tigers DH Gary Sheffield hit a third-inning grand slam off Jarrod Washburn as the Mariners suffered their first home loss in the past 10 games at Safeco Field. Jose Guillen and Adrian Beltre hit solo home runs for the Mariners, who had two runners on base in the ninth inning before Tigers closer Todd Jones struck out pinch-hitter Ben Broussard to end the game.
--LHP Horacio Ramirez will come off the disabled list and start Monday's game against Baltimore, manager John McLaren said.
--SS Yuniesky Betancourt's throwing error in the sixth inning was his 20th this season, most in the major leagues. It also equals his error total for last season.
--3B Adrian Beltre has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .593 in those games with three doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs.
--RHP Jon Huber, on the disabled list because of a strained forearm, suffered a mild setback in a rehab outing with Class AAA Tacoma when the arm tightened up. Manager John McLaren didn't believe it was serious.
--The Mariners signed RHP Tomo Ohka to a minor-league contract. He had started the season with Blue Jays but was released after going 2-5 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts.
BY THE NUMBERS: 14 of 18 -- Number of games the Mariners won down the stretch leading up to the All-Star break.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I didn't throw any punches, but I was ready to. We're all competitors and in a situation like that, we would all agree that you have to stick up for your teammates and Ichiro wasn't going to say anything." -- OF Jason Ellison on getting in the face of Oakland RHP Joe Blanton Sunday after Blanton pushed Ichiro out of the way to get to a loose ball.
LHP Horacio Ramirez (left shoulder tightness) went on the disabled list May 25. He threw his first bullpen session June 19. He threw a 50-pitch simulated game June 25. He started an injury rehabilitation assignment June 30, pitching for Class AAA Tacoma. He's expected to make at least three rehab starts before being activated, and he's expected to return on July 16.
SS Yuniesky Betancourt (sore back) was held out of the starting lineup on July 8, but was able to play the ninth inning.
1B Richie Sexson (sore right thumb) didn't play July 3-4 but was back in the lineup July 5. He was out again July 6 with a left foot but played in the series finale against Oakland on July 8.
C Kenji Johjima (right hand contusion) left the game July 3 and didn't play July 4. He returned to the lineup July 5.
RHP Cha Seung Baek (shoulder) went on the disabled list retroactive to June 17.
RHP Chris Reitsma (sore right elbow) went on the disabled list June 11. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma on July 1 and was activated on July 6.
RHP Jon Huber (elbow) went on the disabled list retroactive to June 7. He threw on the side July 3.
RHP Sean White (right biceps tendinitis) went on the disabled list June 2. He threw his first bullpen session June 27.
RHP Mark Lowe (right elbow) had a second surgery on the elbow this spring, a move designed to remove scar tissue. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma on July 3.
LHP Arthur Rhodes (left elbow) went on the disabled list retroactive to April 1. He had Tommy John surgery on May 2, and he is out for the season.
LHP Cesar Jimenez (stress fracture in left elbow) opened the season on the 60-day disabled list. He began a minor league rehab assignment in late June.