(Photo by Associated Press)
Much of Eric Wedge’s post-game comments centered on the test facing Mariners’ rookies, which is not unlike that which eventually faces all young players, particularly those that produce. As the league figures them out, the rookies must respond — adjust to the adjustments, so to speak. And that’s where we are right now.
It’s not a crisis, mind you. It was just three games ago that everyone was buzzing about the production from the five rookies in the Mariners’ lineup during a high-scoring series in Cleveland.
But on Sunday, while getting stymied by Chicago’s Gavin Floyd in a 9-3 loss, the four rookies in Seattle’s lineup – Dustin Ackley, Casper Wells, Kyle Seager and Trayvon Robinson – went a combined 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts.
Throw in Mike Carp, who got a rest on Sunday, and the Fab Five were 7-for-46 (.152) with 15 strikeouts during the White Sox’s three-game sweep.
If you take a longer view, Robinson is 1-for-11 since his six-hit day in last Tuesday’s doubleheader in Cleveland. Carp is hitting .167 with 17 strikeouts in 42 at-bats in his last 10 games. Wells is 5-for-34 (.147) with 16 strikeouts in his last nine games. And Ackley, over his last 22 games, is hitting .214 (18-for-84) with 24 strikeouts.
Every young player goes through such ups and downs, Wedge said.
“It’s part of it. There’s no excuses. Everyone has to be accountable. You come over here, and you get 30, 40, 50 at-bats, and then there’s a book on you. You have a little success, and there’s more of a book on you. This is big-league baseball; they’re going to attack those holes. They’re going to attack you with some experience and video and some scouting reports. Now it’s up to these kids to make the adjustment back.
“That’s one of the benefits of having young people up here early on versus September. That’s why it’s tough to evaluate in September, because usually you don’t have time to go through that process. Now that a lot of these young kids have 50 and even 100 at-bats, we’re playing teams that are in it, they’re going to be attacking them how they feel they can get them out. Now it’s up to the kids to make the adjustment back.”
Scouting, Wedge said, has become far more sophisticated than even when he played in the early 1990s.
“Oh, my god, it’s night and day. If someone has one AB in the big leagues, we’re going to get it on video, we’re going to have someone there that was watching it. The video is so advanced now, it really is a legitimate part of the game. Kids can use it to a fault, too. You don’t want to paralyze yourself — paralysis by analysis, so to speak. You have to use it with good judgment. ”
Asked specifically about Ackley, Wedge said, “What you are seeing goes with what I’ve been talking about. You’re seeing some consistencies with how these kids are being pitched. We have to recognize it. They’ve got to recognize it and go out and take it away from them. Ack’s done a great job. We’ve pushed him and we’ll continued to push him. We’ve got 30 games left, and we’ve got time to make that adjustment back, and keep moving in the right direction.”
Asked to elaborate about “pushing: Ackley, Wedge said, “He’s a guy we’re going to expect to play every day. He’s a guy we think can be a solid contributor to us offensively. We’ve been very pleased with what he’s done at second base. Obviously, we’ve got him right in the middle of our lineup. It’s an important spot.
“I’ve said it I don’t know how many times. I don’t know if he’s going to be better in the three hole, the two hole, leading off, or what it may be. No different than some of these guys in the middle of our lineup, the Carps and Smoaks. Are they a three, a four, a five, a six — where are they at? The more we can watch them play, the more they can experience days like today…we didn’t play very well today at all. I didn’t think that was the case yesterday, I didn’t think that was the case the day before. But today was a bad day of baseball for us. Not that we played bad baseball, but we didn’t execute, and we didn’t do what we needed to do offensively or on the mound.”
And now the red-hot Angels come to town for four games, right in the thick of the AL West r ace. It will be another challenge for a youthful team.