Munenori Kawasaki held a press conference today to inform the media that he exercised his international FA option and that he would like to play on the same same team as his mentor, Ichiro Suzuki. And he is apparently also willing to accept a minor league deal and a position change if it means he can play for the Seattle Mariners.
When asked what he would do if he got offers from other teams, Kawasaki said that he would turn them down. In response to what he would do if he did not get an offer from the Mariners, he said, "I am only thinking about playing for the Hawks in Japan."
(Note: I made an error in the original quote that indicated he would not return to the Hawks if things did not work out in the US. The quote has since been fixed.)
UPDATE @ 9:16pm - Nikkan Sports has posted comments taken during Kawasaki's press conference:
When did you start wanting to play on the same team as Ichiro?
Since about my second year in junior high school. It was part of my motivation [to play].
Have you spoken to Ichiro about this?
No. This is my own decision. I decided to do what I really wanted to do.
When did you start wanting to play in the US?
I think around the 2006 WBC.
What are you thoughts on the Majors?
It is a great stage. It is one place I felt I needed to experience in this one lifetime I have.
What will you do if you do no get an offer from the Mariners?
I will think about that when the time comes. If I return to Japan, it will be with the Hawks. I will talk to the Hawks when that happens.
Will you accept a [minor league] contract from the Mariners?
That is a possibility.
What would your selling point be?
I want to do for them what I did for the Hawks.