Tweaked batting stance pays dividends early for Dustin Ackley
Ackley's new stance yielded a key run-scoring single in the sixth inning on Sunday against Texas.
Seattle Times staff reporter
On Friday, Dustin Ackley made what he called "modifications" to the new batting stance he unveiled in spring training. Rather than starting with his bat forward, he faces the pitcher in a more traditional hitting position.
So far, he's encouraged by the results, and Sunday produced the best one yet: A sixth-inning single that scored Jesus Montero from second base for the go-ahead run in a 4-3 Mariners victory.
The Mariners had trailed 3-2 when the inning started, but with one out, Kyle Seager hit his second double of the game and came home on Montero's second single. Montero took second on the throw home, allowing him to score when Ackley grounded the hit up the middle off Texas starter Nick Tepesch.
"I was just looking to hit the ball up the middle," Ackley said. "I didn't see a fastball until that point. I was trying to stay on anything he threw up there and just battle, and fortunately I found a hole that time."
Ackley said he began working on the change with hitting coach Dave Hansen on Thursday when he was out of the lineup.
"I'm still trying to accomplish the same things I was working on in spring and early in the season," he said. "It's not like I'm totally changing everything that's going on. I think it's just a little bit of a modification, just to take some timing out of it. Yesterday, and the last at-bat of the day before, I felt really good with it."
Wedge is pleased with Ackley's new look.
"I think it's going to pay off for him," he said. "What we want him to do is be in the hitting position where he was, not so much last year when he created some bad habits with the ankle, but in a better hitting position like when he first got to the big leagues."
Once again, the Mariners found themselves outfield-challenged on Sunday, with Franklin Gutierrez still bothered by groin tightness and Michael Morse nursing his fractured pinkie finger.
Wedge said he hopes both of them would be able to play Tuesday against the Tigers after the team's much-needed day off Monday, their first of the season. Michael Saunders remains on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
When Morse was hurt Thursday, he said he planned to play Sunday, but that turned out to be unrealistic.
"We still have a lot of games left," Morse said Sunday. "I've got to get all the inflammation out first."
• The Mariners are the last team in the majors to get a day off, and it's one they are coveting — particularly because they play 16 in a row after they return.
"Everyone needs it," Wedge said. "It's long overdue for all the guys. They've been troupers, grinded through this. Obviously, we're just scratching the surfaced of what we're capable of doing, so this off day should help."
• Reliever Kameron Loe, designated for assignment by the Mariners on Thursday when they acquired Aaron Harang, has been claimed by the Chicago Cubs.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.