Seattle Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley knew that one day he might be asked to fill in as second baseman Dustin Ackley again.
That day arrived Monday.
“Kind of a surprise,” he said before Seattle’s home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “Nobody ever said anything like, ‘You are going to be starting at second this day.’ So, (it was) a little bit of a surprise. But I’ve been taking ground balls and all that kind of stuff ever since I started playing outfield. They always told me (to) be ready just in case I play second base, and I see why now.”
Actually, several “whys” were listed by Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson. The club wanted another day of rest for second baseman Nick Franklin, who is feeling the wear as his first major-league season rolls into August. Meanwhile, Ackley needed some work. And then there was the matter of Toronto’s starting pitcher: knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey.
“(Ackley) was our starting second baseman for a year and a half — we penciled him in there every day,” Thompson said. “So, it’s just a matter of giving Nick another day off. A lot of times, getting two days off makes a bigger difference than having the one day off. Another thing was with Dickey pitching — a knuckleballer — that may not be a real good matchup for him after the day off. Also, Ack’s got a home run off of him. He hasn’t played a whole lot the last six games, so we thought that was a good time to put him in.”
When — and where — his next start at second will come, Thompson couldn’t say. Nor would he speculate on what the club sees as Ackley’s long-term position.
“We’re trying to figure out where Ack’s going to fit in,” he said. “Is it going to be one spot — one position that he’s at every day — or is he going to be a super utility guy? I don’t know that. It’s basically how well he does coming around with the bat, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
WEDGE STILL RECOVERING
When manager Eric Wedge suffered what was called “a very mild stroke” last month, the Mariners reported that he would be out at least through the just-completed trip to Boston and Baltimore.
On Monday, Thompson gave this update: “He’s doing great. He’s rested well. He’s driving around by himself. He’s doing all the things that people do and he normally does. But once again, he has to be 100 percent when he comes back. And when that time is, we’re not real sure — including himself.
“It is killing him being away when we go on the road, being away from the guys in general. It’s killing him not being in charge and being the leader, which he is, of this ballclub and this organization. But within due time, he will be back and up and running, being in charge again.”
RADIO EXTENSION TO 2016
The Mariners’ radio contract with KIRO 710-AM has been extended through 2016, the club announced.
The station has been the Mariners’ flagship station since 2009, and from 1985-2002 before that.
The Mariners and Blue Jays continue their series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field. Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.30 ERA) is expected to start against Toronto right-hander Josh Johnson (1-8, 6.60). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.Staff writer TJ Cotterill contributed to this report. Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @donruiztnt