By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
TORONTO — The Seattle Mariners are fairly certain Munenori Kawasaki is a character, though not positive because while he rarely shuts up, few teammates know what he’s saying.
Before Friday night’s startling 10-inning comeback victory, he told the Mariners that if they won the game he would sing a song to manager Eric Wedge.
After trailing 3-1 and, in the ninth inning, 5-3, the Mariners rallied for an emotional victory.
“I was so happy and excited, I forgot the promise,” Kawasaki admitted Saturday.
Teammates had not.
Wedge, who knew nothing of the pledge, was in his office with a couple of coaches when the dimunitive infielder knocked and entered — then began singing.
“I guess it was a promise and when we won, he did it,” Wedge said, looking slightly baffled. “I didn’t understand a word of it, but he sang it well.”
“I chose ‘Sukiyaki,’ because it was a hit in Japan, then was translated in America and was popular here, too,” Kawasaki said through an interpreter. “It’s a very positive song.”
Noesi the runner?
Wedge got a laugh Saturday out of pitcher Hector Noesi’s accounts of almost getting into the game as a pinch-runner on Friday.
“You have to be prepared for anything, and we were out of position players,” Wedge said. “We had Smoak on base as the potential tying run, and what if he hurts his hamstring?
“I turned to Noesi on the bench and said ‘Get your spikes on.’ I looked down and he’s got his batting helmet on, too. He was talking about stealing a base.”
Someone asked how far out the scenario would have had to be for him to insert Noesi on the base paths.
“Pretty far,” Wedge allowed.
And where would Noesi have played had he had to stay in the game?
“As far from home plate as possible,” Wedge dead-panned.
Michael Saunders made a little history in his homeland with those two home runs Friday night. He became the fourth Canadian to have a two-homer game playing in Canada. The others: Larry Walker, Matt Stairs and Justin Morneau. … In their first 21 games, Seattle scored 13 runs in the seventh inning or later. On Friday, they scored eight. … Left-handed rookie specialist Lucas Luetge has appeared in nine games, pitched 52/3 innings, and not yet allowed a run. … Dustin Ackley went 0-for-4 to end his five-game hitting streak. … When Ichiro threw a runner out at the plate Friday, it was his 99th career outfield assist. While that total is tied for sixth among active players, consider this: Since 2001, only one outfielder in the game — Kansas City’s Jeff Francouer — has more (100). … After 22 games, Ichiro is the only Mariner to have appeared in each.