Well, the day has arrived Dustin Ackley will play his first big league game for the Seattle Mariners tonight at Safeco Field.
Of course, it's something we wrote about quite a bit in today's News Tribune.
My column discusses what are "fair expectations" for the touted prospect.
Even Chase Utley, the player that Ackley is often unfairly compared to, struggled in his first few attempts in the big leagues, and was sent back to Triple A.
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There seems to be no true base line for success or lack thereof for a player in this situation.
But by all observations, Ackley should be able to handle it all. He seems to be a solid, well-grounded kid. He is a tireless worker, who soaks up coaching. The transition to second base showed as much. It wasn’t easy, but not once did Ackley complain.
Rainiers manager Daren Brown can list many things he likes about Ackley, but one of his favorite qualities is his ability to learn and adjust.
“If he makes a mistake, he doesn’t make it again,” Brown said.
It’s what he will do with the Mariners. TNT columnist John McGrath also wrote about Ackley as only he can, harkening back to the days of Jose Cruz Jr., and then Willie Mays.
On May 25, 1951, the New York Giants summoned Willie Mays from Triple-A Minneapolis, where he hit .477 through 35 games. Mays promptly went 0-for-22, and was in a 1-for-26 funk when he approached manager Leo Durocher.
“Send me back,” said Mays, with tears in his eyes. “I told you I couldn’t hit this pitching.”
Durocher’s refusal to consider that request helped shape baseball history. In so many words, he told the disillusioned rookie: You’re my center fielder, kid, today and tomorrow and all the days after that, and I don’t care how long you struggle.
Ackley never will be compared with Mays – no matter how glowing the scouting reports have been about Ackley’s poised at-bats and steadily improving defense at second base in Tacoma, let’s just get that out of the way – but the patience Durocher once exercised remains pertinent 60 years later.
There’s a chance that Ackley will go 0-for-4 tonight. There’s a chance he’ll be hitless for the series, perhaps even hitless for the rest of the week. There’s a chance Ackley’s futile attempt to adjust to major-league pitching will reduce him to tears.
And in that case?
Mariners manager Eric Wedge would be wise to follow Leo Durocher’s cue for dealing with rookies who have lost their confidence, and say:
“You’re our second baseman, kid, today and tomorrow and all the days after that.” Want some audio?
Well, there was no shortage of it yesterday.
From 950 KJR
- I went on with Dave "Softy" Mahler yesterday afternoon to talk about Ackley and the Mariners.
- And if that wasn't enough, I did the same thing with Elise at Night later in the evening.
- Rainiers manager Daren Brown talked about Ackley with Softy
- Rainiers announcer and blog friend Mike Curto talked with Ian Furness about Ackley.
- And in an also very interesting interview, Mariners minor league roving infield instructor Darren Garner, who spends a fair amount of time in Tacoma working with Ackley, and who GM Jack Zduriencik credited with Ackley's development also talked with Ian Furness.