Dustin Ackley arrived in the big leagues Friday and though he may not be an impact player, just showing up changed the Seattle Mariners.
With the 23-year-old rookie installed at second base, veteran infielder Jack Wilson became a backup at shortstop and second base. Adam Kennedy, who’d picked up most of his at-bats at second base this season?
“Adam will spell Justin Smoak at first base at times, spell Ackley at second base, make some starts at third base for Chone Figgins and some at designated hitter,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Adam will play regularly, just not at one spot.
“You have to appreciate what he’s given us this season.”
All that means, of course, is less time at DH for Jack Cust.
Cust, a left-handed swinging power hitter signed during the offseason, hasn’t played since Tuesday and has seen his playing time diminish over the past few weeks. After playing in 53 games, he’s hitting .214 with two home runs and 19 RBI.
So, Ackley shows up, Wilson goes to the bench and Cust stays on the bench more often. Figgins will give up at-bats to Kennedy – and Kennedy will play most everywhere.
“When you’re above board with players, when you talk to them and you’re straight with everyone, guys are fine with it,” Wedge said.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
When the Philadelphia Phillies came in for their three-game interleague series, they brought a handful of ex-Mariners: players Raul Ibañez, Cliff Lee and Wilson Valdez, coach Sam Perlozzo and assistant general manager Benny Looper.
Ibañez, who left when the Mariners didn’t offer him a deal after the 2008 season, was so happy to be back he brought his whole family with him.
“I want to see Mount Rainier again, I want to see a lot of old friends,” he said.
Among those is one he’ll see tonight – starting pitcher Felix Hernandez.
“We text each other,” Ibañez said. “The year he hit his grand slam against the Mets and Johan Santana, he wore us out with texts.”
Scouting report on the 2011 Mariners?
“These guys can pitch,” Ibañez said.
And the 2011 Phillies?
“This is a team you want to be part of, because you’re part of something special,” he said. “Our group is the best I’ve been with, great people and great players.
“I’ve been fortunate to play in three great environments (Seattle, Kansas City and Philadelphia), but on a summer day there’s no prettier place than the Northwest.”
Ichiro Suzuki began the game with five consecutive multiple-hit games – the 20th time in his career he’s had such a streak of five games or longer. Career high? Seven games. … Tonight will mark the first time in his career Felix Hernandez has faced the Phillies. … Lineup change? Wedge posted his 63rd new lineup in his 70th game with Seattle, this one featuring Ackley batting seventh – and Smoak batting cleanup for the first time in 2011.
Seattle plays host to Philadelphia in a 7:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Vance Worley (2-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (7-5, 3.30).