SEATTLE -- It's a different Mariners lineup that the Royals are facing this weekend. For the first time since 2001, there's no Ichiro Suzuki.
Suzuki tortured the Royals more than any other American League club, batting .365 (145-for-397) against them.
"I don't know how he did it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He always found a hole or a spot. Pretty amazing."
In 2006, Ichiro hit .529 (18-for-34) against Kansas City. All but two of his 10 career homers against the Royals came before Yost took over in 2010.
"He never really burned us for power, or doubles in the gap," Yost said. "You never liked to see him come up with guys on because he was such a tough out. He was hard to defend because he sprays the ball everywhere."
Even though Royals pitcher Bruce Chen opposed Suzuki left-on-left, he didn't subdue him often enough. Ichiro's average against Chen was .414 (12-for-29).
"He's good, man. You have to remember when I faced him, he was in his prime," Chen said. "The guy's tough. The hardest thing with him was he's a very good contact hitter and he's fast. So every time he puts the ball in play, unless it's in the air, he has a chance."
In a total of 433 plate appearances against Kansas City, Suzuki struck out only 33 times.
"It was a real good challenge facing him," Chen said. "He's probably one of the best hitters in the big leagues and, combined between Japan and the United States, I think he has a chance of getting 4,000 hits.
"I never backed down from a challenge and he's definitely one guy that you wanted to pitch to and see how good you are."