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July 8, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Dustin Ackley gave Eric Wedge the confidence to move him up to No. 3

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Well, the Oakland A’s are rolling over against the Texas Rangers for a second straight night, meaning the M’s will fall 5 1/2 games back with another loss. That’s too far back. Once the gap gets that wide, your destiny slips from your hands into someone else’s. So yeah, this is a must-win game.
Some people have been asking for a while now, including on Geoff Baker Live!, why Dustin Ackley is not the team’s No. 2 hitter. Well, one big reason is that his bat was more important to the middle of the order. And today, we see just how important, with Ackley supplanting Justin Smoak in the No. 3 spot.
“I feel like we haven’t created a great deal of opportunities for ourselves, but when we do, we’ve got to have the right guy up there,” Wedge said.
It takes confidence for a manager to do that only three weeks into a guy’s career. Remember that it took Wedge six weeks before he moved Smoak into the No. 3 spot, and that was for a guy in his second partial season of big-league ball. It was also after Milton Bradley was released and left the M’s with few options for the role.
Now, the job is Ackley’s exactly three weeks into his career. Never mind the No. 2 spot. This is a much bigger deal. The M’s are essentially saying that he’s the best hitter they have.
So, I asked Wedge about whether Ackley has already earned his confidence — rather than this merely being a case of having no other options.
“He has,” Wedge said. “I like it when he comes up to home plate. You feel good when he goes up there. And i think that’s always been a big part of it. Guys are heading up to home plate and you know how you feel about them heading up there. And he’s been pretty consistent for us.”

Ackley said he’s never really paid much attention to where he’s hit in the order. He got bounced around a bit at the University of North Carolina, hitting third his freshman year and then leadoff his sophomore year and No. 3 and No. 2 his junior year.
“Once the game starts, you’re hitting third one inning, you’re hitting second another inning then sixth in an inning,” he said. “I usually just take it like that. With a lineup, you see it on paper but once the game starts it jumbles up and you’re hitting in any different position.”
Through it all, including as a pro, he’s just tried to do what he does best — hit line drives and get on.
“I think that’s just been the key,” Ackley said. “Get on base, try to steal some bases here and there when I can and hopefully we get some big hits.”
Adam Kennedy is sitting tonight because Wedge feels he needs a rest. He made him the DH that last game in Oakland and now feels he probably should have rested him more.
Wedge told me he’s got a pretty good gauge of Kennedy’s need for rest and that something like four starts per week is indeed a good base point. It can go to five, but would depend on how many days in a row Kennedy has played.
The point is, there is a new third baseman in Kyle Seager, meaning Wedge has the option of resting Kennedy if he needs to.
Carlos Peguero is a different story. Wedge sounded a bit like a guy running low on patience as he waits for Peguero to flip that switch we talked about in this morning’s blog post. I asked him about that seventh inning at-bat in which Peguero worked the count to 3-1, then how he fouled off the full-count fastball.
“You like to see that,” Wedge said. “But him working the count is one thing. You’ve still got to be able to do some damage when you get your pitch. I think he’s trying to cover a little bit too much right now. He’s making some young mistakes.”
Wedge also said Peguero seemed a little “out of control” and “too amped up out there” with some of the fastballs and breaking balls he chased.
“Where we see him take his BP, he’s going to have to start bringing some of that into his game,” Wedge said. “Which is staying more under control, staying tall on the backside and seeing the baseball.”
Tonight, he’ll see it from the dugout.
The lineups:
Mariners (43-45)
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
30 Miguel Olivo C
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
29 Jack Cust (L) DH
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
56 Greg Halman LF
49 Blake Beavan RHP
Angels (47-42)
2 Erick Aybar (S) SS
48 Torii Hunter RF
53 Bobby Abreu (L) DH
10 Vernon Wells LF
47 Howard Kendrick 2B
6 Alberto Callaspo (S) 3B
44 Mark Trumbo 1B
16 Hank Conger (S) C
27 Mike Trout CF
54 Ervin Santana RHP

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