Update 4:12 p.m. Carlos Baerga time
Lloyd McClendon’s reason for moving Dustin Ackley into the leadoff spot wasn’t complicated or based on any advanced metrics or scouting.
“I’m just trying to jumpstart our offense,” he said. “We lost five one-run games in the last week. I’m just trying something different and hopefully it can jumpstart our guys. We’ve put a little speed down at the bottom with Jonesy. We’ll see what happens.”
Ackley thought he’d be batting second again. But he isn’t going to change anything batting at the top of the order. He’s done it enough to know that you can’t do that. He won’t be trying to channel Rickey Henderson or someone he isn’t.
“In Triple A, when I started leading off, I think it was kind of getting those thoughts out of your head,” he said. “I think the more you tried to over-think being the leadoff hitter and trying to see pitches, that’s when you get yourself in trouble. I think you just have to take it as no different hitting second. /you are going to see pitches when you see them. You are going to get pitches to hit in different places. It’s just a different spot. You still have to take the same at-bats you’ve always been taking.”
Here’s his numbers since the All-Star break.
“It’s been huge,” he said. “They way I felt the last few weeks, starting like a day or two before the all-star break has been way better that it was the whole year. Early on in the season, I felt great. And then there was a month or two gap where I didn’t feel right. But now it feels as good as it has for me in a long time.”
Ackley isn’t passive or apprehensive at the plate. He’s not fouling off fastballs he should be driving. It’s a matter of comfort and not being caught up in the mechanics of his swing.
“That’s been the whole goal for the whole year is to get my swing to a point where I don’t have to think when I get up there,” he said. ” I just go up here and hit and do what I have to do. I haven’t had any swing thoughts when I’m up there. It’s just getting up there, clearing my head and that’s it.”
Part of that process has helped him hit the ball to left field and drive those fastballs on the outer half of the plate.
“I’m not thinking about going that way,” he said. “I’m just hitting where it is pitched, that’s it. I think maybe before I was really trying to go that way . When you start trying to do this and trying do that it doesn’t work, I think it just has to happen. For me, that’s been the separator. ”
Michael Saunders will take on-field batting practice today for the first time since suffering a grade 2 oblique strain. Saunders has been hitting soft toss and off of a tee. He will also catch fly balls and play catch.
“I’ve let loose on some swings,” Saunders said. “It hasn’t been quite 100 percent. But I don’t do that in games where I overswing. It feels good. I’ve put some good competitive swings on the ball.”
Saunders has also had to build up his throwing. He’s throwing at 90 feet now.
His hope is that he will go out on a rehab assignment sometime before this road trip is over with.
James Paxton is here in Cleveland. He’ll throw a bullpen session tomorrow. If all goes well, he could take the vacant fifth spot in the rotation and start on Saturday in Baltimore.
McClendon said that’s a “strong possibility.”
A very different looking lineup today for the Mariners with Dustin Ackley in the leadoff spot for the first time this season. With James Jones struggling and Endy Chavez not really giving them a ton of production, manager Lloyd McClendon has moved Ackley up from the No. 2 spot.
Here’s his career splits per batting position
Trevor Bauer is interesting dude. He has his own throwing program, which includes ridiculous long tossing pregame. He’s got his own ideas about pitching, which didn’t work well when he was with the D’Backs and basically got him traded away. His last outing wasn’t very enjoyable for him.
His splits are pretty normal …
The M’s don’t have a ton of at-bats off of him. Endy Chavez has a homer off of him
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Mariners will hold a private workout for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo on Sunday. Now before you get too excited, Castillo is working out for several teams privately after a successful initial workout in Miami with every big league team represented.
Here’s the updated list on that.
Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports, who also represent Robinson Cano. I don’t know how much that means. But Roc Nation reps certainly like the Mariners.
Hot stove speculation alert!
Official game notes … 07.29.14 Game Notes
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