Once again, the Mariners find themselves outfield-challenged, with Franklin Gutierrez still bothered by groin tightness and Michael Morse nursing his fractured pinky finger. Eric Wedge said he hopes both of them will be able to play by Tuesday against the Tigers, after the team’s much-needed day off Monday, their first of the season.
When Morse was hurt Thursday, he said he planned to play Sunday, but that turned out to be unrealistic.
“We still have a lot of games left,” he said today. “I’ve got to get all the inflammation out first.”
As for Gutierrez, Wedge clearly wants to avoid using him today.
“Obviously, the concern is, we’ve already lost two outfielders, we can’t afford to lose another one,” he said. ” It’s a tricky thing. We’ll see. The fact of the matter is, he can be available to a point. But how hard do I want to push that, this early, with two other outfielders down? It’s a slippery slope, as far as I’m concerned. Obviously, the guy’s produced when he’s been in there. That’s where the discipline has to come in here – for me, anyway.”
I talked to Dustin Ackley, who has gone away from the bat-forward batting stance he began using in spring training. He calls the change a “modification,” one he began working on Thursday when he was out of the lineup.
“I modified it a little bit, stuff I worked on in the cage,” he said. “I’m still trying to accomplish the same things I was working on in spring and early in the season.. It’s not like I’m totally changing everything that’s going on. I think it’s just a little bit of a modification, just to take some timing out of it. Yesterday, and the last at-bat of the day before, I felt really good with it.”
Ackley said he worked on the changes with hitting coach Dave Hansen. Wedge was asked if the impetus came from Ackley or were a collaboration among the manager, Hansen and Ackley.
“A little bit of all the above. Not to be too evasive, but I was, for good reason. All those players in there, it’s their career. The choices they make, they have to be all in on, because it is their career. But it’s our job to help steer them in the right direction, and give them our two cents worth. And then let them decide what they’re going to do. Regardless of what they decide, we’re going to help them with 100 percent of our time, energy and passion.
“Dustin has decided to make a few adjustments and hopefully get him back to some of the basics that got him back to the big leagues. I think it’s going to pay off for him.
“What we want him to do is be in the hitting position where he was, not so much last year when he created some bad habits with the ankle, but in a better hitting position like when he first got to the big leagues. He’s always been somewhat of a front-foot glide guy, which is OK, because his bat head has been in the zone forever. That’s one of the reasons he’s always been such a good hitter. But to have that slow down and be a little more under control, and be in a better position, when his foot does get down, to strike the baseball. I think that’s what you saw a little bit last night, and that was encouraging.”
Finally, reliever Kameron Loe, designated for assignment by the Mariners Thursday when they acquired Aaron Harang, has been claimed by the Chicago Cubs.