TAMPA, Fla. - When Ichiro Suzuki heard the question translated for him, he laughed for a moment before giving a short answer.
"I'm not going to fall for questions like that," Ichiro said.
The question: would he prefer to be with another club where more playing time could be assured?
In that sense, there are probably few worse places for the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer than where he's at right now. In the offseason, the Yankees added Carlos Beltran to play rightfield and Jacoby Ellsbury to play center. With Brett Gardner slated to start in left and Alfonso Soriano there to take some starts against lefties, Ichiro is firmly entrenched as the club's fifth outfielder.
"This is a place where the greatest players gather and play so I'm really excited to play with those guys," said Ichiro, who hit .262 with a .297 on-base percentage last season. "Obviously, with the additions, I'm going to have to find a place for myself but I've worked hard this offseason . . . my job up to this point was to come here healthy and in good shape and that's what I did."
The Yankees are open to trading Ichiro, 258 hits shy of 3,000 for his major-league career, but at the moment there doesn't appear much of a market for him.
"When you're here with the Yankees, you tend to think about those things, you just never know," he said of the trade possibilities. "I've thought about a lot of things which I think a lot player do."
Gardy set for left
It surprised no one when Ellsbury disclosed Tuesday that Joe Girardi had told him he'd be the starting centerfielder and would bat leadoff. That left Gardner shifted back to left, where many in the game felt he should have won a Gold Glove in 2011, and somewhere else in the batting order, perhaps ninth.
"I feel comfortable over there," said Gardner, himself the subject of trade rumors over the winter. "I told Joe I can play right, too, if he needs me to. Just do whatever I need to do to help the team win. Whatever he needs me to do I'll be ready."