For Dustin Ackley, there’s no getting around the fact that when he steps to the plate tonight, the giant scoreboard will flash .087. That’s his paltry batting average after eight games, reflecting two hits in 23 at-bats. But Ackley tries to take solace in the fact that he’s had some well-struck balls for which he wasn’t rewarded with a hit.
“I think that first series in Oakland was a tough one, because I had hit three or four or five hard balls,” he said. “I could have realistically had three or four doubles. It’s one of those situations where I’m swinging the bat pretty good, and nothing’s happening. So keep going what I’m doing, and hopefully things will turn around.”
That said, it’s no fun lugging around a .087 average, particularly on top of last season’s disappointing .226 average. That’s far short of expectations for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
“Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough,” Ackley said. “But it’s still early. I’m a three-hit game away from being over .200, or whatever that number may be. It’s kind of tough to know that you’re swinging a little better than your numbers show. Probably not a lot of people know that. I’ll just keep going out there and keep taking good swings and see what happens.”
Ackley says he remains convinced that his new batting stance is his best path to get into the proper position to hit.
“I feel comfortable with it. There’s times I’ve been late getting ready or certain things like that, but overall, I’ve felt pretty good about it the whole season.”
Ackley has had a couple of good baserunning moments this season, including the healthy jump he got from third base last night to score on Franklin Gutierrez’s safety squeeze.
“Any time you get on base and you have good opportunities to be aggressive, I think it’s important,” he said. “Especially early on, make the defense make the plays. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been on base that much. Any time I get the opportunity now, I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Eric Wedge wrote up his ninth different lineup in nine games tonight, with Kyle Seager getting his first day off of the season against lefty Erik Bedard, the former Mariner. Robert Andino gets the start at third. Wedge said the lineup fluctuations are reflective of the Mariners’ depth, but also a sign of modern times.
“It’s just baseball,” he said. “You look around the league, it’s not just us. People get too caught up in it. It’s not 1975 anymore. You’re not going to have the same nine guys out there every day, and you’re not going to stay with the same team for 10 years. It’s just doesn’t work that way.
“But the flip side of that, it’s a healthy thing. We’ve got 13 guys we feel can go out there and play, and play regularly if they need to. It will definitely help us later in the year, but it will help us here even early on as we continue to play and stay fresh. Early on, you have to be careful. You come out of spring training where you got them playing two, maybe three days in a row tops. Then you come out and break, and play 14 in a row. You’ve got to be careful with all that too.”