TOKYO -- Ichiro Suzuki has told the Seattle Mariners he will retire after Thursday's game in Tokyo, sources confirmed to ESPN, and has exited the game.
Kyodo News was first to report the story.
After the Mariners took the field in the eighth inning, all players except Suzuki left for the dugout. Suzuki then waved to the crowd before leaving the game for defensive replacement Braden Bishop. Suzuki received a standing ovation from the crowd and hugs from his Seattle teammates.
Suzuki, 45, was 0-for-4 with one strikeout. He grounded out to short in his final at-bat.
Many expected Suzuki to retire after the series in his native Japan or when the Mariners returned home for two spring training games with the San Diego Padres before the regular season resumes against the Boston Red Sox.
Japanese fans had been hoping it would not be the end of his career, but they knew it was likely. In Japan, they also thought that when Suzuki played here in 2012 with the Mariners -- also against the?Oakland Athletics?-- and had four hits in one game.
He has had only two hits in 31 at-bats in spring training, including two exhibition games in Japan.
"Seven years ago, it appeared he had played for the last time in Japan," Fumihiro Fujisawa, head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press. "I don't think anybody believed he would be active now."
Seattle manager Scott Servais had earlier hinted that, after Suzuki started in a season-opening victory against the A's on Wednesday, he might not start Thursday in the final game of the brief series.
"I wasn't quite sure," Servais said. "I thought we'd give him the opportunity to go out there. And I'd love to see him get a couple of hits and finish on a high note here."