Just took part in a conference call with Dustin Ackley, the team’s newly-signed No. 2 overall draft pick. He was boarding a plane home from California, where he flew yesterday afternoon to take a physical.
Ackley admitted that “it was pretty nervewracking” waiting for a deal to get finalized after he took the physical. He had to sit around in California waiting for news. The deal did not get done — at least, he wasn’t told about one — until mere minutes before the 9 p.m. Pacific deadline. Up to then, he still had doubts and was hoping he didn’t have to fly all the way out to California for nothing.
Many of you are wondering whether the M’s will keep Ackley as an outfielder, or try to convert him to a second base role. The question is not out of left field — pardon the pun — because the Mariners might start looking this winter for a defensive upgrade to Jose Lopez at second base and have a rather crowded outfield at the moment.
Remember, the Mariners signed Ackley to a major league deal. So, they will be paying him major league bucks while they wait for him to get to the big leagues and likely want that to happen sooner rather than later.
Ackley played first base for the Univeristy of North Carolina this season while recovering from Tommy John ligament transplant surgery on his elbow and it’s been said he has the skills to make a good second baseman in the majors. In fact, he’s already been compared to Chase Utley, which sounds like a bit much, but you never know.
The major league team has Ichiro in right and Franklin Gutierrez in center. It also has an impressive looking Michael Saunders in left. So, I asked Ackley what he felt his best position was and where he thought the M’s would best benefit from him.
“I think my position will be in the outfield,” he said.
Ackley went on to say that the outfield is where he can best utilize his speed to the team’s defensive advantage.
“It’s just wherever the team needs me,” he added, but then finished by saying: “I definitely think the outfield for me will probably be the best thing.”
And so, we could have some interesting competition in left field in the not-too-distant future.
Ackley also said he didn’t think the shift from aluminum to wooden bats will have much of an impact on his left-hitting bat. He played in the Cape Cod League last summer, where they use wooden bats.
“At that point, I was able to kind of adjust to it,” he said. “And it didn’t seem like that big of an adjustment.”
Ackley isn’t too sure where he’s going to start playing and when, but expects to know within another day or two.