Still unsure exactly what to expect from the Japanese newcomer, Lou Piniella kept waiting for the rookie to pull a ball. Too many hits sprayed to left field, Sweet Lou thought, too easy for defenses to adjust.So the veteran Seattle manager summoned the translator and told him to deliver a message to Ichiro Suzuki: I want to see some bat speed.Piniella saw them huddle in the dugout and share a laugh. A couple of innings later, Suzuki led off with a home run into the bullpen in right-center.He rounds the bases, he steps on home plate, and he says, `Happy now? when he shook my hand, Piniella recalled. I said, `Yeah, yeah, you can do whatever you want.All these years later, with Suzuki on the verge of joining the 3,000-hit club in the big leagues, his first skipper in the majors is taking a lot of pride in watching the pursuit. As much as Piniella believed in Suzuki from the start and was in awe of those early accomplishments with the Mariners, he never would have guessed the outfielder would still be playing at age 42 and going for such a lofty perch.Suzuki hit .335 with a .412 on-base percentage in 164 at-bats over the first half with Miami. He stood at 2,990 career hits as the Marlins returned from the All-Star break to open a weekend series at St. Louis.Now gray-haired and no longer a regular in his 16th major league season, Suzuki might have lost a step, but not much. Credit his commitment to an intense regimen that has long included an on-deck routine that features a deep warmup squat, then a one-of-a-kind stance and a sweeping twirl of his bat.Suzuki was 27 and had 1,278 hits in Japan before he came to the big leagues. Piniella got so excited after Suzukis two-hit debut in 2001 that he kissed him.I was so happy for him, thats why, Piniella said. Its hard for a player to come here from Japan, especially with the scrutiny that he had. Im an emotional guy. I got caught up in the moment. I gave him a hug and at the same time I gave him a little peck. Look, I really enjoyed watching this young man play and I knew from seeing him in spring training that he was a special player.At the time, Suzuki did not come cheaply. Seattle paid $13 million just to secure his rights, and signed him to a three-year, $14 million contract. The Mariners got their moneys worth and then some.Suzuki, better known just by his first name, has long prided himself in preparation.So much so that Piniella had been around no other player like him, with that meticulous stretching before stepping into the batters box to the foot rubdowns he gave himself at his locker with a small wooden tool before and after games.I had never seen it, quite frankly. I was quite amazed by the things that he did, the stretching especially, Piniella said. Here in the United States, we go through a rigorous spring training, but once the season starts prior to the games we have our stretching exercises and then the kids play.He took it to a totally different level. He was fanatical about that and thats probably one of the big reasons that hes playing here at age 42, he said.That first season was a memorable one for many reasons. The Mariners won an AL-record 116 games, clinching the division shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Yet Seattle failed to reach the World Series, losing in five games of the AL Championship Series to the Yankees.Still, Suzuki won AL Rookie of the Year and MVP. Suzukis ability to beat out infield hits at times left Piniella shaking his head.He did have a special year. The team had a special year that year, Piniella said. We won 116 games and Ichiro was a big part of it. Ichiro was a special player. He had really good speed, he had that uncanny ability to put the ball in play. In the outfield, he played as well as you can expect, great throwing arm. He made the adjustment to American baseball very quickly, became one of the leaders in our clubhouse and was accepted by the players. He had a tremendous impact on our team that year.Hes going for his 3,000th hit now, and Im so proud of him. Hes had just a wonderful career. I look forward to the time when hell be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he said.Some of the most memorable hits by the 10-time All-Star didnt even count.In 2007, Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history, winning unanimous MVP honors and helping the American League to a 5-4 victory at San Franciscos AT&T Park with a go-ahead, two-run drive that took a crazy bounce off the right-field wall.Hed never hit an inside-the-park homer during his decorated career in Japan.Hes an amazing guy, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. You just take age out of the equation and if you just looked at him as a player, if you evaluated just what you see, not thinking about age, you see a guy that runs above average, plays all three outfield spots, throws above average, hits lefties and righties.His work habits and everything else, for me, just set him apart.---AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report. Wholesale NHL Jerseys Free Shipping . The Hall of Fame defenceman told Landsberg that he believes fighting still has a place in todays game, but thinks staged fighting needs be outlawed. Stitched Adidas NHL Jerseys . Its an influence in football and a big part of the game. http://www.cheapnhljerseysfreeshipping.com/ .Y. -- Bills receiver Stevie Johnson has a bone to pick with the NFL schedule maker. Adidas NHL Jerseys Wholesale . -- Josh Sterk scored once and set up two more as the Oshawa Generals edged the visiting Belleville Bulls 3-2 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League action. 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LANDOVER, Md. -- As if things were not already bad enough for the Minnesota Vikings, what with a four-game losing streak and a depleted offensive line, there sat Jake Long in front of a locker, head bowed, a pair of crutches by his side.Backup Jeremiah Sirles, seated to Longs left, reached out and put a hand on his teammates shoulder, trying to comfort him.Long -- signed last month after the Vikings put two tackles on injured reserve -- was carted off the field after hurting his Achilles tendon on Minnesotas final drive of a 26-20 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, dropping a team that started 5-0 to 5-4 and making its present and future even bleaker.Well get back to the drawing board tomorrow, Sirles said about what will happen to the offensive line now that Long is expected to miss the rest of the season, and see what the plan is going forward.Of immediate concern, in addition to how to replace Long after already having to account for injuries to left tackle Matt Kalil and right tackle Andre Smith, is next weeks game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals.Got a lot of things weve got to clean up, a lot of things weve got to get better at, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. Everybodys frustrated right now. So Id be disappointed if they werent frustrated.The Redskins (5-3-1), meanwhile, get to enjoy this back-and-forth victory -- Washington led 14-0 a minute into the second quarter, trailed 20-14 at halftime, then scored the final 12 points -- before facing yet another team whose season is spiraling out of control: They host the Green Bay Packers (4-5 after losing four of their past five games) next Sunday night.Here is what else to know about Washington and Minnesota:FAT ROBUndrafted rookie Robert Kelley is not letting go of the Redskins starting running back job. He climbed the depth chart in part because former starter Matt Jones had trouble holding onto the football, and Kelley -- nickname: Fat Rob -- heads into next week as the unquestioned No. 1 back. Kelley had 97 yards on 22 carries against Minnesota and hasnt fumbled in the NFL, while third-down back Chris Thompson put the ball on the ground Sunday. Kelley watched the film of hiss first start, Oct.dddddddddddd30 against Cincinnati, saw cuts he missed and improved. I tried to make sure I didnt make the same mistakes this game, Kelley said. It worked out.SHORT YARDAGEThe Vikings cant believe how much trouble they have in short-yardage situations and will prepare for Arizona knowing they failed to convert twice on third-and-1 against Washington. Weve just got to do better. We went with big people. We went with small people. Didnt get either one. Thats where our toughness needs to take over, tight end Kyle Rudolph said. We cant seem to get that 1 yard.RAZORS EDGESeven of the Redskins nine games this season were decided by one score; theyre 4-2-1 in those. Players said its a sign of resiliency; they wouldnt mind a blowout moving forward, though. If were really going to be a good team, defensive end Chris Baker said, weve got to stick our foot on (an opponents) throat from the beginning of the game until after the game.NO BALANCEIf Minnesota is going to turn its season back around, one key could be figuring out how to run the ball more -- and run it better. Not having Peterson is a big deal, of course, but check out these numbers against the Redskins: 21 carries for 47 yards, a 2.2 average. Sam Bradford threw the ball nearly twice as many times (40) as he handed it off. Its been tough the past couple weeks, but were going to stay committed to it. I know that we believe in the run game, Bradford said. I still believe were best when were balanced.RED-ZONE STUMBLESThe Redskins offense settled for three field goals in four trips to the red zone against Minnesota -- part of Washingtons season-long struggles when it gets close to the end zone. Plus, Kirk Cousins almost got intercepted at the goal line, but linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr collided and the ball fell between them.---AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.---For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL---Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich Cheap Adidas Hockey Jerseys Wholesale College Jerseys Cheap Nike Basketball Jerseys Cheap Football Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Baseball Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Jerseys From China Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Nike NBA Jerseys Cheap NHL Jerseys Authentic Cheap MLB Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Soccer Jerseys China Cheap NCAA Jerseys China Stitched NFL Jerseys Cheap Custom Jerseys China Cheap Basketball Jerseys Authentic NFL Jerseys China Cheap College Jerseys Wholesale Football Jerseys ' ' '