Just who was that guy sitting on the Seattle Mariners bench Bobby Ryan Jersey , the odd fellow with the bushy mustache, shades and a hoodie? Wait a second â€" it was Ichiro!
Now a team executive, Ichiro Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout Thursday to watch a bit of the action at Yankee Stadium.
Exactly as he hinted, in fact.
â€ťHe was perfect. I never would have known it was him,â€ť Valentine texted to The Associated Press.
Officially, Suzuki isnâ€™t allowed to be in the dugout during games under Major League Baseball rules. The 44-year-old outfielder with 3,089 career hits came off the Seattle roster in early May and moved into the teamâ€™s front office as a special assistant to the chairman.
Suzuki has been taking part in pregame drills and batting practice in a role similar to a coach. But heâ€™s required to leave the bench when games begin, and thatâ€™s when he takes his place in the clubhouse â€" usually, anyway.
This time, in a ballpark where he played for parts of three seasons, Suzuki got a much closer look.
AP photographer Bill Kostroun spotted Suzuki with his face nearly covered by a fake mustache Mikko Rantanen Jersey , sunglasses and a gray hoodie drawn tight over his head during in the first inning as the Yankees hit a pair of two-run homers.
Suzuki sat in the middle of the dugout, in the back row, in his shorts and occasionally crouched down while the Yankees swung away. He was gone by the second inning of Seattleâ€™s 4-3 loss that completed a New York sweep.
The 10-time All-Star hasnâ€™t officially retired, and thereâ€™s speculation the Japanese great might play when the Mariners open the 2019 season in Tokyo with a two-game series against Oakland.
This was Seattleâ€™s only trip to Yankee Stadium this year, and maybe Suzuki wanted a final look at the ballpark. Or perhaps he was just showing off his playful side.
On the day it was announced Suzuki was moving into his new position, he predicted this might happen.
â€ťDuring the game I will be doing the same preparations Iâ€™ve been doing the entire time. Nothing is going to change for me that I did as a player,â€ť Suzuki said at the time. â€ťBut I canâ€™t say for certain that maybe I wonâ€™t put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout.â€ť
In 1999, the excitable Valentine was ejected from a game he was managing for the New York Mets. He was tossed in the 12th inning, but soon put on a fake mustache and sunglasses and returned to the dugout in disguise.
Valentine was later suspended for two games and fined $5,000.
The longtime manager liked Suzukiâ€™s creativity.
â€ťOne of the biggest honors of my life,â€ť Valentine said. â€ťI was going to send him a set Womens Kris Russell Jersey , but he didnâ€™t need it.â€ť
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.
Removed from the turbulence that marked his previous seasons in New Orleans, Jrue Holiday is in a good place â€" and it shows.
Holiday had a career playoff-high 33 points as the Pelicans took a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 111-102 victory on Tuesday night. The series shifts to New Orleans on Thursday.
Holiday struggled at times with injuries after coming to the Pelicans in 2013. Then in early 2016 he took a leave of absence when doctors discovered that his wife, former U.S. national soccer team player Lauren Holiday, had a brain tumor while she was pregnant with the coupleâ€™s first child.
â€ťHeâ€™s been through some tough times, the first year heâ€™s injured, heâ€™s on minute restrictions through the greater part of the season, and then everybodyâ€™s familiar with the situation with his wife and what they had to go through there,â€ť coach Alvin Gentry said. â€ťEverybodyâ€™s healthy and in a good place now so I think mentally heâ€™s in a good place.â€ť
Holiday played Tuesday night with emotion he did not often show earlier in his career. He agreed that it felt a weight has been lifted.
â€ťMy familyâ€™s the most important thing to me, and with them being OK I can come back to the team freely and be able to help them out now,â€ť Holiday said. â€ťItâ€™s been fun. I feel like my teammates and the organization definitely helped me out coming back from things with my family, and even the injuries Anton Stralman Jersey , with being able to play and being able to perform at the peak Iâ€™m performing.â€ť
Holiday also had nine assists for the Pelicans, while Rajon Rondo came close to his 11th postseason triple-double with had 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Anthony Davis added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
CJ McCollum, who struggled with backcourt teammate Damian Lillard in the opener, rebounded with 22 points to lead the Blazers.
Portland trailed by as many as 11 points in the third quarter but Lillard hit a 3-pointer and added a free throw to tie the game at 93 with 7:31 left. Holidayâ€™s pull-up jumper and Rondoâ€™s driving layup kept the Blazers from pulling ahead.
Maurice Harkless dunked and Al-Farouq Aminu had a layup to re-tie the game at 97. After Holidayâ€™s hook shot, Harkless made a 3-pointer to give Portland a 100-99 lead.
Nikola Mirotic and Holiday each hit 3-pointers to put the Pelicans back in front 105-100 with 1:35 remaining and Portland couldnâ€™t catch up. Fans at the Moda Center booed at the final buzzer.
Lillard finished with 17 points for the Blazers, who were hurt in the third quarter when starters Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and Evan Turner (right toe) left the game.
The third-seeded Blazers, in the playoffs for the fifth straight year, dropped the first game against the Pelicans 97-95, becoming the highest seed to lose at the start of the opening round.
Davis had 35 points and Rondo had 17 assists to tie the franchise record. Lillard and McCollum combined to shoot just 13 for 41 in the opener.
Lillard said he expected more out of himself.
â€ťComing into the playoffs, you know teams are going to lock in and theyâ€™re going to try to make the game hard for you Gordie Howe Jersey ,â€ť he said.
Portland got a boost in Game 2 with the return of Harkless for first time since he had a minor procedure on his left knee in late March. He missed 11 games.
McCollum shook off the Game 1 struggles, hitting four of eight from the floor in the opening quarter. His layup tied the game at 21 and then he dished to Harkless for the dunk to put the Blazer in front.
Portland led 35-30 after rookie Zach Collinâ€™s bank shot and the Blazers led by as many as nine points before taking a 59-54 lead into halftime.
Davis made a short jumper from out front to give the Pelicans a 65-64 lead. Portland was hurt a short time later when Nurkic limped off the court and into the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was flexing his left leg. He iced his leg the rest of the game.
Pelicans: Holiday had 12 points in the first quarter alone. â€¦ Davis had scored 25 or more in his first five post-season games. He came up a game ****ying LeBron James for the second-longest streak to begin a career, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbarâ€™s 14 straight, according to Elias.
Trail Blazers: The third seed in the West has won its first-round series for the past four seasons. â€¦ Portland had home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. â€¦ Fans at the Moda Center were clearly upset with the officiating, taunting the refs with a chant in the final quarter.
QUOTABLE: â€ťWeâ€™ve still got two more games to win, so weâ€™re not celebrating anything,â€ť Gentry said.