SAN DIEGO—In an interview following Japan's 10-6 victory against Cuba in the World Baseball Classic championship game Monday, Ichiro Suzuki called the tournament a "great opportunity to represent anything besides the Seattle Mariners." "Playing alongside my countrymen on the world stage was nice, but the highlight of the event for me was not having to watch helplessly from the on-deck circle as [Seattle outfielder] Willie Bloomquist pops out for the fourth time in one game," said Ichiro, who has been contemplating a return to his non-Mariner roots since late 2003. "Honestly, I would have played for the Netherlands team if it meant 17 days away from the Mariners spring-training camp." Although he said that the legendary Sadaharu Oh did a fine job coaching Team Japan, Ichiro added that "next to Mike Hargrove, any idiot in a baseball cap would seem like a decent manager."