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February 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM

A few Sunday morning links and notes … Ackley finds confidence and swing

venezuela

photo from @RealKingFelix

It’s a pretty quiet Sunday morning here in Peoria. While the Puget Sound prepares for snow, there isn’t a cloud in the sky here with temps expected to hit 79.

No sign of Kendrys Morales here in Peoria. I really don’t know what the Mariners might do with him. I’d probably say there’s a 50-50 chance or a 50/50 possibility that the sign him.  Here’s my notebook from today’s which leads with Morales and also has a note about the Mariners’ Venezuelan players bonding together for a message of peace  (above) in their violence ravaged country.

That raging pessimist and contrarian Larry Stone has decided he won’t be seduced by the siren’s call of spring training success. The same can’t be said for the smell of Red Robin burgers and unlimited baskets of fries.

Larry, Tim Booth and I talked with Dustin Ackley this morning. He was very honest and introspective about last season, his struggles and his confidence take a hit.

I posted some video of Ackley yesterday. There have been some small tweaks to his stance. But he’s trying to stay with basic fundamentals he used at the end of last season. He hit .304 (56-for-184) after the all-star break and .390 (30-for-77) in the month of August.

“Usually from the offseason to the season, it might not be exactly the same, but it still feels the same,” he said. “I’m going to just keep with that same approach I had, overall, for the second half. I’ve got to be more consistent with it. I think if I do that, there’s going to be a lot of good things to come.”

Here’s the video from yesterday’s batting practice.

And here’s a swing on a homer last year.

The stance might be a little more open this year.

“I’ll be a little open,” Ackley said. “I like being at least slightly open. I’m sure it will differ depending on the situation, or lefty or righty, trying to see the ball a little better. It’s going to stay a little bit open. Since college, I’ve never really hit with it closed, or kind of even. It’s something that’s always felt comfortable. I felt I could see the ball that way, so that’s the way I’ve kept it.”

When Ackley hits well, he’s decisive with his front foot, getting it down early instead of gliding it into pitches. He hopes that staying open and being a little more upright in the box well help that.

“Yeah, I feel like it seems a lot of things get into place when I’m open,” he said. “A little bit taller. At times I’ve tinkered, maybe I need to be wide, maybe that’s why this is happening or whatever. I think I’ve always hit up tall or close to it. I think that’s really the style that’s helped me get where I need to be.”

Ackley feels he’s getting back to the basic swing principles of his first year in 2011.  

“I think that’s probably why I’ve been having success – I’m back to the things I was doing,” he said. “Back to that same mindset I had before, and kind of getting away from, ‘My foot needs to be here, and my hands need to be here at this point,’ and all that. I think that’s why I’ve been hitting a lot better this last half of last season, as opposed to 2012 and early 2013.”

The big thing is just being comfortable in the batter’s box. No paralysis by analysis.

“I’ve told people, I don’t care how good your swing is, if you’re thinking about stuff, and if you’re mind’s not 100 percent all in to what you’re doing, you’re not going to be successful,” he said. “That’s pretty much a good example of me last year. My swing, it might have been a good swing, but my mind wasn’t right, and that’s really what screwed me up.”

Speaking of swing changes. Lloyd McClendon is happy with what he’s seeing from the changes in Mike Zunino’s swing. While it is batting practice, Zunino has looked extremely impressive. He’s spraying ball all over the park and really driving the ball to the right-center gap.

“He’s been great,” McClendon said. “He’s really picked up on the drills. HoJo has done a tremendous job with him. I’ve been really surprised at how fast he’s picked things up. He’s really swinging the bat well. He’s a big a guy and he generates pretty good bat speed.”

More notes …

Stephen Pryor will throw his first bullpen session of the spring today. That’s a big step for him.

Felix Hernandez will throw live batting practice. I will try to get video of both.

Also for people wanting to watch spring training games. MLB Network announced that these Mariners games will be televised.

  • Sat., March 1:  1:00 p.m. PT – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Seattle Mariners
  • Tue., March 4: 1:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Sat., March 8: 6:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners Split Squad @ Los Angeles Dodgers Split Squad
  • Sun., March 9: 1:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners Split Squad @ San Francisco Giants
  • Tue., March 11:  1:00 p.m. PT LIVE - Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Mon., March 17:  9:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Fri., March 21:  10:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners @ Chicago Cubs
  • Tue., March 25: 4:00 a.m. PT – Chicago White Sox @ Seattle Mariners
  • Tue., March 25: 8:00 p.m. PT – Seattle Mariners @ Kansas City Royals

LINKAGE … 

Ashley Varela has this preview of the infield on Lookout Landing

Jeff Sullivan writes about Nelson Cruz on USS Mariner in his own unique way.

I love crossword puzzles. My dad got me in to doing them and when I’m not getting up at the crack of dawn to talk to baseball manager, it’s part of my daily morning ritual. … and here’s a spring training one from ESPN.com

 

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