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Bruce Bochy and Ichiro Suzuki meet one last time: ‘Legends respect legends’

PEORIA, Ariz.–Bruce Bochy’s ride as the longest-tenured manager in baseball will come to an end on the final day of the Giants’ season.
Ichiro Suzuki’s run as the game’s most experienced position player will likely finish sooner.
As Ichiro’s Mariners prepare for a trip to the outfielder’s home country of Japan and the Giants gear up for Bochy’s last year in the dugout, a pair of future Hall of Famers acknowledged one another Wednesday evening in Peoria.
Before a Cactus League game between the Mariners and Giants, Ichiro and teammate Jay Bruce approached the visiting dugout to congratulate Bochy on his upcoming retirement. Even by the relaxed standards of spring training, it was a rare but much appreciated gesture.
“I get it, it’s spring training and people are probably like, ‘Well you’re supposed to hate each other,’ but this was pretty cool to see,” Giants starter Derek Holland said. “Guys like that come over to the dugout and say stuff to Boch.”
Ichiro, 45, has expressed a desire to play until he’s at least 50, but the Mariners may no longer have room for him on their roster upon returning from Japan. General manager Jerry DiPoto hasn’t committed to keeping Ichiro beyond the club’s two-game, series-opening trip overseas, leading to speculation that Ichiro could retire in the coming weeks.
If Wednesday was the last Cactus League game Ichiro ever participates in, his at-bats came against a pitcher who truly appreciates what Ichiro has meant to the sport.
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“He’s been outstanding to watch and in my eyes, that’s a legend. Or as we would call it, a GOAT. He’s been fun to watch all the way through, especially growing up even before I got to face him. I watched him on TV. He had a cannon out in the outfield. Fastest dude out there,” Holland said.
Ichiro finished the night 0-for-2 at the plate against Holland, who used a curveball to strike him out in his first at-bat before firing a fastball on the outer half to catch Ichiro looking later in the game.  Despite Ichiro’s struggles Wednesday, Holland said he won’t forget the way Ichiro found ways to get on base.
“We’ve got the shifts and all of this stuff, this guy beat the shifts,” Holland said. “Whatever you did, he found a way to beat it. To me, he’s an unbelievable player and I’ve got nothing but straight up respect for that guy. And he carries himself very well, a super nice guy.”
Holland lasted four-plus innings and gave up four earned runs Wednesday in what will likely be his third-to-last start of the spring. He pitched well at times –striking out six– but admitted he wasn’t quite as sharp as he hoped.
Years from now, the left-hander won’t remember Wednesday’s game for he did on the mound, but instead for the interaction that took place in the visiting dugout.
“Legends respect legends,” Holland said.

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