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Bleeding ulcer puts Suzuki on 15-day DL

SEATTLE Mariners All-Star right fielder Ichiro Suzuki will miss his first season-opener in nine years after being placed on the disabled list with a bleeding ulcer, the team said on Friday.

"It was a very difficult decision to place Ichiro on the disabled list," Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik said.

"Especially since we know what a fierce competitor he is and how important it is to him to help the team.

"However, we determined it was in both his best interest and the best interest of the club, to place him on the DL at this time."

The eight-time All-Star was placed on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career after complaining of being light-headed and showing signs of fatigue.

He missed the Mariners' final three spring training games played in Arizona and will not be in the line-up for their regular-season opener tomorrow at the Minnesota Twins.

The team said the bleeding had stopped and Suzuki, who helped Japan defend its World Baseball Classic title last month, had taken part in a light workout on Friday.

Ichiro will be eligible to be activated on April 15, the day after the Mariners play their home opener against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.

Surprising move

Meanwhile, one home run shy of 500 for his career, Gary Sheffield reached a contract agreement with the New York Mets on Friday, three days after he was released by the Detroit Tigers in a surprising move.

Sheffield was expected to be in New York today and the deal was contingent on him passing a physical, General Manager Omar Minaya said.

The 40-year-old slugger provides the Mets with a right-handed power bat, something they needed to help balance the batting order.

Sheffield was one big swing from becoming the 25th Major League Baseball player to reach 500 home runs. The Tigers will have to pay US$13.6 million of his US$14 million contract this year while the Mets get him for the MLB minimum of US$400,000.

Sheffield played across town with the Yankees from 2004-06, putting up two big seasons followed by an injury-shortened one before he was traded to the Tigers.


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