Nikkan Sports carried the following interview with Ichiro Suzuki on Tuesday:
You had a tough season this year.
I do not think there are seasons that are not tough. Although I do think this was one of those years that was obviously tough. It is very rare for me to get to the point where I feel broken.
You lead the league and tied your personal high for hits in April with 39. You had one of your best starts in 11 years.
It was not like I had a good feel for things, and yet I was getting results. [Because of that,] I think you could say it was a very shaky start for me.
You have said many times that exhibition games and regular seasons are two completely different things.
This is the same with any year: it is difficult to know if the things you did in Spring Training were right when you have a rough April. [With regards to 2011,] I thought I did the right things because I was doing well in April. I was actually wrong about that, but you can not tell until much later.
And the longer it takes to figure out what you are doing wrong, the more difficult it is to make the necessary adjustments...
I think you could say that the gap between the results and how I was feeling during the month of April was at its greatest. When you are doing well, you should be able to tell yourself that something is not right, but that is close to impossible for me.
You were quoted as saying, "My body was fine but my spirit was broken," after your last game of the season. This quote left a lasting impression.
Physical stress is not a big deal. How tired you feel depends on the amount of mental stress you feel. If you get two to three hits a day, you are not going to feel tired. One hit can make more stress go away than one hour of massages.
There are some that think age may have played a part [in your rough season].
I admit that lately I find myself enjoying Enka music during Kohaku Uta Gassen. I am also more concerned about how young people are speaking and find that my skin is drier. So there are times where I feel like I am getting older.
Can you laugh those people off that want to say age is your problem?
I think people that are quick to point to age as being a problem are boring. Some of them are unfortunate people that do not know how to take care of themselves. I also find many of them to be uninteresting and lacking in depth. Wait a minute, I just felt a little old right now because I am taking this so seriously.
How can you change the perception?
I think it is better to do well and be criticized. This really goes without saying, but if you are going to call yourself a professional, you need to put up results.
What was your training schedule like after the last game of the season?
I started training the next day. I started running about ten days later and now I am running about twice a week.
(Ichiro runs about 10km a day. There is also about 2km of hills that he does not slow down on.)
You have not run hills that much during your previous off-seasons...
I think you should do things when you feel like doing them. So working out at home, running hills, to me it is like eating when you are hungry. I have not done anything because I feel like I have to.