That didn't take long. When Franklin Gutierrez left with yet another injury on Sunday, it seemed inevitable that another disabled list stint was forthcoming, and that's indeed the case. The Mariners announced that Gutierrez is returning to the DL, and Dustin Ackley has shuttled back up to take his place.
Ackley hit the ground running in Tacoma following his demotion and murdered the competition.
|May 28 to Jun 24, 2013||25||126||104||21||38||8||0||2||14||19||14||0.365||0.472||0.500||0.972||0.409|
His overall offensive line was through the roof, and he did it being the same kind of hitter he was in Seattle, swinging at just 35% of pitches, something he's been criticized for in the past. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing for Ackley, since he didn't really seem to do much differently in Tacoma in his plate approach that caused him trouble in Seattle. It's more than possible that Ackley just didn't have to make the same kind of adjustment (read: strikes off the plate away) in Tacoma that he's struggled to make in Seattle. If confidence was the issue, he should have regained it in buckets, complimented by his absurd .409 BABIP. Hopefully it was as simple as that. Dustin Ackley should be a selective hitter. It's in his blood, and if he's successful at it, he can be quite productive.
Ackley's been playing equal parts 2B and OF in Tacoma (12 games at 2B, 12 in the OF), and nine of those have been in center field. It will be interesting to see if the Mariners dare move Nick Franklin off of 2nd base to shortstop when he's been so successful at the former, but there is certainly a hole to be filled in center field with Gutierrez down, Michael Saunders scuffling, and Endy Chavez not being a serious part of this team's future.
The hope here is that Ackley comes back with his stoic brand of confidence and starts ripping line drives all over the ballpark like he did when he emerged in 2011, this time doing it while playing in a couple places around the diamond. There's a lot of value in a player who can field multiple positions, and while it's important to have some healthy skepticism about Ackley's performance in the outfield given his complete lack of experience there (remember, Ackley only played 16 games in the outfield in college) the potential for a near every-day utility player of sorts is tantalizing.
Ben Zobrist is the comp that's getting tossed around, but pump the brakes. Zobrist can play shortstop and is a plus defender at multiple positions, which Ackley has yet to demonstrate. All of this position flexibility won't mean anything if Ackley can't hit, and that's what he needs to prove. Hopefully the team will find places for him to play in the lineup, as it's about time they start looking forward to future years instead of the current mish-mash of rentals (Bay, Chavez, etc.)
Seattle needs Brad Miller in the wings. If you have too many infielders that can hit, that's a great problem to have. Ackley is too talented of a hitter to write off, and his AAA dominance shows that the talent hasn't disappeared. Can he adjust this time around? We'll see.to be good. He's an important building block for the future, even with the emergence of Nick Franklin and