Ichiro Suzuki had grandly returned the Seattle Mariners fans' rousing standing ovation Monday with a tip of his helmet and an appreciative bow at Safeco Field.

It was a heartfelt moment between a player and the people who'd supported him for 12 seasons.

But when Ichiro stepped into the batter's box, he wasn't masquerading in another uniform. He was already, unquestionably, a Yankee.

"He was ready to go," manager Joe Girardi said. "He was itching to get dressed and get out and stretch and take batting practice with the guys."

Ichiro blended in a little better Tuesday, laughing easily with teammates between turns in the batting cage.

"It's an atmosphere I love to be around," Ichiro said through his interpreter late Monday night after celebrating a 4-1 victory in his Yankees debut.

"I told him I haven't seen him smile this much in years," said Alex Rodriguez, who, like Derek Jeter, has gotten to know Ichiro from All-Star Games and other events. "He's going to have a great time [here]."