NEW YORK -- The camera shutters fired at rapid speed when he spoke, and when he smiled, and even when he just sat there, pausing to contemplate a question, or doing nothing in particular.
Yes, Ichiro has arrived in the Big Apple as a member of the New York Yankees.
He switched clubhouses in Seattle, moving to the visitor's side when the Mariners dealt him to the Yankees, and he donned pinstripes at Yankee Stadium for the first time, getting thrust into the game's biggest rivalry in the sport's biggest market.
"This guy has been through a lot in his career, you think about the expectations and the media coverage that has surrounded him, the ability that he has," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think we're pretty confident that New York isn't going to be anything too big for him."
When Ichiro was a young, budding star growing up in Japan, before he traveled across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle in 2000, he collected MLB baseball jerseys, fancying himself a big fan.
"I had the Yankees uniform," Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. "Obviously it's different, but it feels like I've worn it before."
But not like this. Ichiro moved from the bottom-feeding Mariners to the first-place Yankees, thrust into a pennant race and immediate playing time, with outfielders like Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher still sidelined by injury.
"As a visitor, you come in here, a lot of the fans in the stands are pretty tough on players," said Ichiro, who is hitting a career-worst .261 this season and will bat eighth Friday night against Boston. "Right now, I'm wearing the pinstripes. Hopefully when I go out there, the fans will be on my side this time."
Count Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine among those who have seen plenty of Ichiro. In 1994, just before Valentine began his first stint as manager of the Chiba Lotte Mariners, Ichiro was playing for the Pacific League's Orix Blue Wave.
"Practice is one of those ridiculously overblown things in Japan, but when we'd get there for practice, he'd already be practicing," Valentine said. "The reason he lived in the dorms was so he could already go do it.
"His manager [Akira Ogi] was an established Japanese manager, who immediately told me how good this guy is. And he wasn't the type of guy who went out on a limb about a player's ability. He was so fast. He literally, then, we had an AstroTurf field and so would they, and he'd hit groundballs to the first baseman that were close plays at first.
"It'll be exciting for him and for a lot of the fans. I think he's a special person and a special baseball player, and he's in a special situation."
One MVP, 10 Gold Gloves, and 10 All-Star Games later, and Ichiro joins the historic pantheon of legends to wear the pinstripes.
"I don't think I know as much as all of you, but as a visitor coming in for 12 years, I've gotten to see some of what goes on here," he said. "What's I've realized is really mentally, it really is different than the teams that I have been on."