Miami Marlins slugger Marcell Ozuna was already enjoying an All-Star caliber season before he approached teammate Ichiro Suzuki before Tuesday’s game.
On a whim, Ozuna asked if he could borrow one of the future Hall of Famer’s much lighter bats during the game. Once Ichiro realized Ozuna was serious, he granted permission. From there, Ozuna went on to have one of his most productive games of the season, because what other outcome would you expect?
Ozuna finished Tuesday’s 7-2 victory against the Phillies 3-for-5, including hitting his 13th home run of the season. Given that success, he continued using the bat on Wednesday, where he once again homered in his first at-bat of the Marlins 10-2 win.
That prompted Ozuna to label Ichiro’s bat a “magic bat.” But instead of pushing his luck or sticking with the bat until it had nothing left to give, Ozuna retired it in an impromptu ceremony after rounding the bases.
According to the Miami Sun-Sentinel, Ozuna bowed to the Japanese legend after returning to the dugout and before vowing to never use the bat again.
“I know that’s a magic bat. I’m going to put it on the wall in my house,” Ozuna said after the game.
Ozuna added that he plans to clean the bat and have Ichiro sign it. That’s a pretty cool memento with an even better backstory thanks to Ozuna’s spur-of-the-moment decision.
As for Ichiro’s reaction: “I was kind of nervous for him. It was really surprising.”
There was no reason for nerves. Ichiro’s bats have always been full of hits.
It took a special person to swing them with the success Ichiro has. Otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about an amazing career that’s been Hall of Fame caliber in two different countries and resulted in 4,319 total hits over 26 seasons. But those less skilled must feel a new wave of confidence knowing they’ve been given Ichiro’s nod of approval.
Of course, this isn’t an entirely new practice for Ozuna. He borrowed a Barry Bonds bat last season to get back on track. Though Ozuna didn’t necessarily need the same mojo this season, it appears he’s ready to catch fire again. After retiring Ichiro’s bat, he went 2-for-4 to raise his season batting line to .321/.388/.577.
The next stop for Ozuna might just be the Home Run Derby and/or the All-Star game in his home park in Miami. Assuming he’s there, wouldn’t it be fun to see him swing for the fences using an old Don Mattingly model?
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