The roster shuffling for the Seattle Mariners continues. On Monday, the team announced that it had selected infielder Nick Franklin and recalled pitcher Hector Noesi from Triple A Tacoma. To make room, second baseman Dustin Ackley and pitcher Lucas Luetge were optioned to Tacoma.
Obviously, the call up Franklin and demotion of Ackley are the big news.
With an 0-for-5 game yesterday, Ackley was hitless in his last 22 plate appearances. After getting his batting average up to .255 on May 4 in Toronto, Ackley struggled, getting just six hits in his next 62 plate appearances and posting a batting average of .111 (6-for-54) with just one extra base hit.
His average had fallen to .205 (32-for-156) with a .266 on-base percentage and a .250 slugging percentage.
He will go to Tacoma to try and figure out what has gone wrong.
“It was just time,” Wedge said. “Obviously, we fought for the guy for quite a period of time now and wanted to make it work up here and not have to do that. Ultimately, we couldn’t take it any further.”
Wedge believes much of Ackley’s issues are not physical.
“With Ack, it’s more of a mental approach or a mindset up there, it’s not his swing anymore,” Wedge said. “He’s in a pretty good position fundamentally. Listen, he’s going to be a good hitter and he’s going to be a good player. He’s done a hell of a job at second base. He plays a great second base. He gets down the line quicker than anybody. He can steal a bag. He cuts the bases better than anybody. There’s a lot there to like. He’s a good kid. He competes. He just needs to get over some things mentally in regards to his approach. When he does that, we’ll get him back up there and I think he’ll take off.”
Ackley seems to be hitting in 0-2 and 1-2 counts constantly.
“That’s one of the examples that he needs to get beyond,” Wedge said. “Have a little more attitude in the box. It’s easier to be free and easy in the count when you can let it rip. It’s hard to be perfect in this game. You can’t go out and play this game care free if you are worried about failure. You have to go out there and let it rip.”
Wedge seemed adamant in a radio interview on Friday that sending Ackley down wasn’t an option.
“If you don’t know me by now, I’m going to be adamant till the end, while knowing where I’m at inside,” he said. “I’m going to back these guys till the end. Now how far we are down the road, or how far I’m down that road may be different than what I”m talking to you guys about.”
General manager Jack Zduriencik said the move had to be made.
“I think it was very evident to us that what this guy needed was to take him out from under the big league bright lights if you will, take a step backward, go down and try and get your swing back, try to regain your confidence and let the pieces fall where they may,” he said. “It’s not unusual for this to happen. We see it a lot with big league players.”
Zduriencik said Ackley took the news like a professional.
“I think he was very open to it. I think he was understanding of where we’re at,” Zduriencik said. “I said to him this was a decision that we made that we think is for your best benefit as well as the organizations benefit at this time. I think he understood that. I think there was a part of him that was very disappointed and another part of him that wants to be part of a club – he’s here, he’s part of this team – but we have to look at the big picture on all these scenarios, all these situations, both with Jesus and him.”
Zduriencik believes Ackley’s hitting issues can be fixed
“I think a lot of it with hitting is confidence – confidence in what you’re trying to do as a hitter and what they’re trying to do to you and making adjustments,” he said. “Sometimes you get into a scenario as a big league hitter where you lose your feel and I think that some of what was going on with him. None of us have the exact answers, but we do know that if we remove him from the bright lights from the major leagues and let him go down to Triple-A and regain his stroke, again the history of what this guy has done in his career just stares you right in the face. That he’s got to be a big league hitter. The issue is he hasn’t been producing up here and he just needs to go back. This is the right move for him. He needs to go back and regain his confidence, regain his stroke, put him in a different environment where there is less pressure on him and concentrate on being the Dustin Ackley that was drafted a few years ago. ”
Franklin has certainly earned the call-up. He was hitting .325 (46-for-142) in Tacoma with a .440 on-base percentage with a .472 slugging percentage. He has nine doubles and four homers and 20 RBI.
“I see him playing more second base,” Wedge said. “I want to take a look at him. It’s a great opportunity to take a look at him. We’ll let him get settled today and start him tomorrow.”
To make room for Franklin on the 40-man roster, outfielder Francisco Martinez was designated for assignment. Martinez was part of the group of players the Tigers sent to Seattle in exchange for Doug Fister and David Pauley. Of that group – only Charlie Furbush is with the Mariners big league club. Martinez, who was once a regarded third base prospect, and Caspwer Wells have been DFA’d, while reliever Chance Ruffin is being converted to a starter in Double A Jackson.
The reason for the Noesi call up is the Mariners bullpen took a pretty good beating yesterday in the extra inning win. And the uncertainty of Aaron Harang starting today and Brandon Maurer made it prudent to be proactive.
Luetge is one of the few relievers with Triple A options.
“We had to make a move today, had to,” Wedge said. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that our starter goes eight innings, gives up two runs and we win the game.”
The Mariners will be without a few relievers today. I’m guessing Yoervis Medina and possibly Tom Wilhelmsen will be unavailable.