Suzuki leaves game after being hit by pitch

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SEATTLE (AP) – Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki left Sunday’s game in the fifth inning after appearing to be hit on the right knee by a pitch from Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

With a runner on first and no outs in the fifth, Suzuki was hit by a 96 mph fastball from Verlander.

Suzuki hobbled halfway to first, then stopped and was checked by trainer Rick Griffin and manager John McLaren. Suzuki gingerly made his way to the base and remained in the game. But he continued to have a slight limp and was lifted moments later after slowly advancing to second on a wild pitch.

Television replays appeared to show the ball hitting Suzuki squarely on the outside of his right knee. But the team said the ball hit Suzuki in the muscle just above the knee and he has a right thigh contusion.

Yuniesky Betancourt took Suzuki’s spot in the lineup and Willie Bloomquist moved from shortstop to center field.

On Friday, Suzuki agreed to a $90 million, five-year contract extension that will keep him under contract with the Mariners through the 2012 season. He could have become a free agent after this season.

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