The first time he went on the disabled list as a major leaguer was because of a bleeding stomach ulcer. That year, he’d led Japan to a victory in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, winning the final game with a base hit in extra innings. The stress ate a hole in his stomach. Weeks later, a Mariners team doctor told him he couldn’t play on Opening Day. Ichiro refused to listen, his teammate Sweeney says. Before the team ultimately forced him to sit, the doctor tried to explain that a bleeding ulcer was a serious condition that could actually kill him.
Ichiro listened, unmoved.
“I’ll take my chances,” he said.
The best hitter I’ve ever seen is Barry Bonds. But Ichiro is up there, and remains simply sublime. I’ve never seen anyone play baseball like Ichiro plays baseball.