There is a definite buzz around Safeco today. It's a nearly perfect spring day with the sun shining. Dustin Ackley is making his debut and the Philadelphia Phillies, owners of the best record in baseball, are in town for a three-game series.
Ackley met with a large group of media before batting practice, and talked about being called up and his role with the Mariners.
As expected, Ackley is starting at second base and batting seventh in a very different order than we've seen from Mariners manager Eric Wedge. It has Justin Smoak batting clean-up for the first time in his career. Adam Kennedy is at DH. Wedge said he will play Kennedy at second base, first base, DH and even start some games at third base. The fact that Kennedy was doing early work at third base the other day is not a coincidence. Wedge wouldn't say an exact number of days per week that Kennedy would need to play to remain effective.
"I don't put a number on it, cause I don't want you guys to hold me to it," Wedge said. 'But he's going to play regularly. And then we'll give him a day here and there just to stay on top of it. Obviously, you have to appreciate from what you've seen from this year."
Obviously, this means Jack Cust and Jack Wilson will see their playing time cut into severely. But expect to see Wilson playing a little shortstop when Brendan Ryan needs a break as well as Ackley.
So what does Wedge expect from Ackley, knowing that people can have ridiculous expectations?
"I don't expect him to come up here and get four hits the first night," Wedge said. "Just come up here and have good at-bats. Go up there, have fun, compete, do what you do. Just focus on yourself and the let the rest take care of itself. Try and minimize all of this (media) as best you can, but handle it. It's part of being a pro. Focus on the task at hand. Just make sure your mind is in the moment and you take care of your business. If you do that, it will all be okay."
And while Wedge wants Ackley to try and treat it like it's just another game, he knows that isn't just another game. The first major league game is never that simple.
"It is a special day," he said. "It's always special. Hell man, if it ever gets tot he point where its not special, you should get out of the game. It's not just a job for these guys. This is the culmination of a dream come true, and there is only one first day. It's one of the moments in your life you will never forget."
And because he's such a good guy and was one of the few players that actually produced in 2008, when no one else did, here's some video of Raul Ibanez.
- 51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
- 26 Brendan Ryan SS
- 4 Adam Kennedy (L) DH
- 17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
- 8 Carlos Peguero (L) LF
- 30 Miguel Olivo C
- 13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
- 9 Chone Figgins (S) 3B
- 21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
36 Michael Pineda RHP
- 11 Jimmy Rollins (S) SS
- 8 Shane Victorino (S) CF
- 26 Chase Utley (L) 2B
- 6 Ryan Howard (L) 1B
- 27 Placido Polanco 3B
- 29 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
- 10 Ben Francisco DH
- 9 Domonic Brown (L) RF
- 51 Carlos Ruiz C
44 Roy Oswalt RHP