Are the Mariners already heading toward a platoon setup in left field with Dustin Ackley and converted second baseman Rickie Weeks?
Manager Lloyd McClendon seemed to suggest that’s the plan Wednesday before the Mariners took part in their first full-squad workout at the Peoria Sports Complex.
First, McClendon revealed his intention to have Weeks spend most of his outfield time this spring in left field. Weeks is also expected to draw some time in the infield at first, second and third.
McClendon then dismissed the suggestion that signing Weeks represented the club sending a message to Ackley, who started 127 games last season in left field
“I don’t think that was it at all,” McClendon said. “We’re trying to get better, and Rickie Weeks is a good player who can help us win ballgames.
“I think the combination of both of those guys out there should produce a
left fielder where you have
a combination of 20-25 home runs and 100-plus RBIs. Now, you’ve got something.”
NEW LOOK FOR WEEKS
Weeks also sported a new look for his new club: No dreadlocks.
“Personal preference, I guess,” he said. “I got them cut off about two months ago. I was at home. The past couple of years, I’ve been going back and forth on cutting it off.
“I had it since 2008. Just one of those things.”
Weeks said the decision had nothing to do with heading to another club after 12 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“No reason,” he said. “Pretty much (just got tired of them).”
RUGGIANO IN CENTER
Newcomer Justin Ruggiano is in line for spot duty in center field in addition to sharing time with Seth Smith, another newcomer, in right.
“Rudge will see some time in center field,” McClendon said. “I think one of the things I have to be very cognizant of is making sure I give Austin Jackson the proper amount of rest.
“He will get his rest, and Rudge will get some time in center field.”
Ruggiano has made 145 of his 272 career defensive starts as a center fielder. He has 71 career starts in left field and 56 career starts in right field.
The Mariners, like all clubs, held an extended general meeting prior to the start of full-squad workouts. McClendon addressed the high expectations being placed on this year’s club.
“Expectations are very high — and that’s OK,” he said. “I understand it. We can’t get caught up in expectations. We’ve got to get prepared and get ready for the grind of a 162-game schedule. And it starts today.
“If you want to be a champion, it doesn’t start in April. It starts in February. I think they’ll be up for the task.”