KANSAS CITY, Mo. – What has bothered Dustin Ackley most in 2012 hasn’t been his batting average – .230 entering this four-game series.
“The worst frustration is that all season I’ve felt so close to being myself,” the Seattle Mariners second baseman said Tuesday. “I didn’t feel more than a tick off at the plate, but I couldn’t get it right.”
On Monday, Ackley had a three-hit night against the Royals, raising his average three points. But far more important was the sensation he had at the plate.
“I know what I’ve been doing wrong – getting out too far on my front foot, not waiting for the pitch to get to me,” Ackley said. “The last four or five days I’ve felt great in batting practice, but I’d get in the game and fall back to the same bad habit.
“(Monday) was the first time I took my BP approach into the game and trusted it. I walked my first time up without swinging, but I stayed back and recognized pitches quicker. The last three at-bats, that’s as good as I’ve felt at the plate all season.”
It was also Ackley’s first game in Kansas City.
“Like every park, you see the ball differently,” Ackley said. “In my last at-bat, I lined out and thought I hit that ball better than I did the home run I hit earlier.
“I have a narrow stance, and I have most of my life. I tried widening it this season, then went back to my comfort zone. That’s my stance, and I got back to that. The job now is to keep that approach.”
After Ackley’s big game, someone congratulated him on looking like the Ackley of 2011.
“Thanks,” he said. “I hope to stay a while.”
Rookie Lucas Luetge has had a phenomenal season, going 1-0 with a 1.57 earned-run average in 35 appearances, though Monday night was one of only six games he’d finished for Seattle.
“I tried to tell myself it was a save opportunity,” said Luetge, who came in with a five-run lead, two outs and two men on base. “But mainly, I reminded myself this was going to be the last out of the game – so I couldn’t run off the field.”
Wait. Luetge worried more about what he might do after getting an out than about the left-handed batter he was about to face?
“I didn’t want to embarrass myself,” Luetge said. “I was our spring training closer this year – a job nobody wants – and a couple of times after the game I’d run off the field instead of hugging the catcher.
“Luckily, in spring training, by the ninth inning most of the regulars are gone.”
Luetge did his job, retiring Eric Hosmer, then waited on the mound for catcher Jesus Montero.
“I almost never think about pitching when I get to the mound,” Luetge said. “I think about not tripping, not doing something stupid and embarrassing myself. So far, it’s worked. I save my stupid stuff for the bullpen.”
Pre-game visitor in the Seattle clubhouse Tuesday: former Mariners first baseman David Segui, the son of pitcher Diego Segui, who started the first game in Mariners history. ... Since being recalled from Tacoma on June 13, outfielder Casper Wells has batted .301 with three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 16 RBI. Not impressed yet? Wells also has three outfield assists – one behind team leader Michael Saunders.
Seattle plays at Kansas City at 5:10 p.m. on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Kevin Millwood (3-7, 3.71 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (7-8, 5.50).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLarue