Looking at the lineup for today’s game, a few things jumped out early. The first was seeing Dustin Ackley way down in the No. 8 spot. Who would have thought that would be the case this time last year?
Also, some of you have already noted that Justin Smoak is batting fifth and Kyle Seager sixth. Mariners manager Eric Wedge confirmed that was more to do with the whole lefty-righty thing in the lineup than anything definitive.
“That’s more so what it is,” Wedge said. “It’s not something that we’re always going to do, but depending if there’s a particular lefty on the mound or matchups, or whatever it may be, if we want to lengthen out our lineup a little bit I feel like we have the option now to do it.”
As for Ackley being so low down in the order — a testament to many of the bats imported this off-season — Wedge said it certainly gives the team a different look to have so many young guys futher back from spots they occupied up top and in the middle of the order last year.
“It’s different, obviously in a good way,” Wedge said. “We’ve talked about wanting to spread out our lineup and being solid 1-though-9 and we feel like we’re a lot closer to that.”
Ackley said he’s looking forward to showing what he can do with a revamped batting stance he says allows him to use his legs more and feel more balanced in the box. The approach, he said, should allow him to hit all types of pitches better.
“I think when you don’t have that balance, you’re sort of susceptible to off-speed pitches and things like that. Last year, I was kind of a victim of that. I only hit fastballs in certain spots if it was thrown in the right spot. I think now, I’m better equipped to hit breaking balls, changeups and things like that. Last year, I was probably in a position where it was tougher to take those pitches in the dirt and I wasn’t in a position to hit them if they were strikes.”
We’ve mentioned over and over that Ackley appeared to lack plate discipline last year and was chasing all types of unhittable pitches. The balance thing woul explain part of that. If you on’t feel balanced an comfortable at the plate, pitchers can make you look really, really ba when they start changing spees an location.
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