Ackley In The Outfield

It was a bit of a surprise to arrive at the ballpark yesterday, look at the lineup card, and see “left field” next to Dustin Ackley‘s name.

The Mariners are going to give Ackley some reps in the outfield, to increase his positional flexibility and give him more options to return to the major leagues.

Ackley told me he last played outfield in 2009, when he was in the Arizona Fall League. He also did a bit in college at North Carolina.

He was a little surprised by the news, too – he did not bring an outfield glove on the road trip, and had to borrow one from a teammate. He even joked that he would use his tiny second base glove in the outfield.

The Mariners have flown in outfield instructor Brant Brown to help guide Ackley through the transition.

The greatest outfielder in Mariners history happens to be with the team right now. Ken Griffey Jr. said that he thinks Ackley will make a smooth transition to the outfield, based on his athleticism. Griffey laughed about how Ackley was drafted as a first baseman with center field potential, converted to second base, and then moved to the outfield.

So, how did Ackley look?

His first chance was a ball that outfielders say is the most difficult: the low line drive right at him. Ackley gauged it properly and came in a few steps and handled it easily.

He looked good going back on a towering drive to the base of the wall.

There was a wind-blown double to left-center that saw him take a somewhat non-linear route, but I don’t think it could have been caught anyway.

His arm was surprisingly strong, considering he is accustomed to making short throws in the infield. He practiced long throws before the game and had a few during it. He’ll need to be careful adjusting to this, as nobody wants to see him come down with a sore arm.

So far, so good.

Roster News

Franklin Gutierrez started another 20-day rehabilitation assignment yesterday, going 1-for-5 with an RBI as the designated hitter.

Justin Smoak is expected to begin his rehab assignment tonight.

Brandon Bantz has cleared waivers and will join the Rainiers this evening. Temporary backup catcher Toby DeMello is going back to extended spring training.

Tonight’s Game

The final game of the EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES is tonight at 7:05. The broadcast is on 850 AM and streams online here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-1, 1.42) against Las Vegas RHP Zack Wheeler (4-1, 4.14). The New York media – four outlets covering the series in Vegas – believes that this is Wheeler’s final minor league start.

Links:

The Rainiers travel to Sacramento on Friday, and tomorrow’s blog update may be brief. Full post coming Saturday for sure.

One Response to Ackley In The Outfield

  1. Jeff says:

    I was wondering, what’s wrong with KHHO’s signal? I was listening to last night’s game, and your broadcast was punctuated by lots of “dead spots” (some lasting 20 seconds or longer; missed the final out!). Did the same thing when listening to the pre-game show as I was on my way to Cheney Stadium for the Sacramento game last week. Also, there were times that it’s usually strong signal was very weak. Hope they get this corrected.

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