Dustin Ackley drop down in the order as he battles slump
Second baseman insists he's feeling better, seeing the ball better
Seattle Times staff reporter
Dustin Ackley insists he's still pretty close to getting his offensive game back.
But the Mariners weren't going to leave him batting second in the order while he tries to figure it out. With Ackley mired in a slump that saw him enter Friday with a .202 batting average in June, the team dropped him down to No. 7 in the order and moved Franklin Gutierrez into his spot.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the move will enable Ackley to get a look at a few more pitches early in games. Wedge also likes Gutierrez's right-handed bat up near the top, where he can split up left-handed-hitting Ichiro and Kyle Seager.
'It's just too hard to do it the way we've been doing it with all the lefties," Wedge said. "It just doesn't play well early with the starter because it allows him to get into a rhythm facing everybody from the same side of the plate. We didn't have a choice with it because that was the cast of characters we had."
Ackley said a couple of weeks back he was seeing the ball well and merely fouling off some hittable pitches. He said Friday his problem remains pretty much the same, including getting himself into a hole early in counts the prior night by not taking advantage of some early pitches by Padres starter Edinson Volquez.
"But I've still been feeling good," he said. "There was a couple of at-bats where I felt I was seeing the ball really well. I let the pitches get deep. It just didn't pay off, but I'm going to look on the bright side. I mean, I felt good. Probably my last three or four at-bats I felt like I saw the ball really well. I felt my balance was where I need it to be. The results didn't show, but like I said, I felt really good about it."
• Mariners first-round draft choice Mike Zunino has been awarded the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year. The two-time All-American from the University of Florida was the No. 3 overall selection by the Mariners earlier this month. Zunino is batting .322 with 19 home runs and 64 RBI.
• Michael Saunders entered Friday having reached base in 10 of 12 games in June and had a .383 average for the month with three homers and seven doubles. His average is fourth highest in the AL in June.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners