Mariners Give Ackley The Green Light

SEATTLE — It's going to be difficult for the Mariners not to give Dustin Ackley a chance to make the 2011 big league roster in spring training.

Ackley needed a year to learn a new position, second base, after being the second player taken in the 2009 draft.

And it took a bit for him to hit as expected while doing that.

But if results from the first 52 Arizona Fall League at-bats are any indication, he's got it down.

In games through Nov. 9, Ackley was hitting .442/.577/.808 with seven doubles, four home runs and 18 walks to just eight strikeouts.

That's not to say that he's a finished product, however. The club has wanted him to run more. Seattle first base coach Mike Brumley took some time in early October, and Darrin Garner works with him on an almost-daily basis on the finer points of utilizing his basic speed to steal.

Still, he's just 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts so far since the Arizona Fall League season started, and that's a bit of a problem for the Mariners.

"I told him, 'It doesn't matter how many time you get caught stealing,' '' Garner told the Everett Herald. "If you get thrown out, so what? If it happens three times in a row, so what? You're learning every time you go."

Ackley hit .267/.368/.407 over 289 at-bats in Double-A and 212 in Triple-A. But his overall numbers were dragged down by a cold April. From May through the end of the season, Ackley's final line was more impressive at .289/.382/.439, all of which should translate well when the lefthanded hitter gets to the big leagues.

But after stealing eight bases in 10 attempts for West Tenn, he stole just two bases in three tries for Tacoma, so his willingness to steal is not yet going in the direction the organization would like to see.


• Outfielder Michael Saunders worked with hitting coach Alonzo Powell on making better use of the lower half of his body during his swing, then left in mid-November and will play about a month with Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League.

• Righthander Josh Lueke has turned in a nice performance in the Arizona Fall League with a 1.13 ERA in his first six games.