Dustin Ackley is hitting second again today, and there is a good chance we see more of that in the future. While Endy Chavez's injury prompted the move Saturday, manager Lloyd McClendon believes the No. 2 spot might be an ideal spot for Ackley.
"He runs well. You can do a lot of things with him. He's got some power," McClendon said. "He certainly can hit a lot of doubles and he hits left-handers, so I think it's an ideal spot. It didn't work out earlier in the year but I think he is a lot more comfortable now where he is as a hitter."
After McClendon declared that he'd like to keep Ackley low in the order all year if possible to allow him to further develop, challenges with the offense prompted the decision to move him to second in late April. It was a move McClendon didn't feel terribly comfortable about making and one he didn't stick with after Ackley – who had been hitting before the move – suddenly put up a couple of 0-fers. This time around, McClendon feels better about moving him.
"We talked about it," he said. "I think I am more comfortable with it because he's more comfortable with it. I'm not sure he was ready to handle it the first time around. I think he probably put a little too much pressure on himself the first time and maybe thought my expectations as to what I thought he should do in that spot were higher than what they really were. But I think he is comfortable in his own skin now and he's feeling good about what he is doing. I think he is more up to handle it."
Ackley himself feels he's ready for the move up.
"I'm just going to try to stay the same approach I have the whole time, not try to think too much, not try to do too much. Just stay within myself," he said. "I am not going to try and go up there and hit a bunch of home runs or do something crazy."
No one is asking him to do anything crazy. The July version of Ackley is just fine, thank you. He is driving the ball well, hitting to all fields and putting up a good number of doubles. We have also seen him start to hit the ball the other way a bit, and he's finding success in that approach.
"There are a lot of pitches away now and early on I was taking or I was missing, fouling them off or not putting them in play the way I was supposed to. But now I am starting to not miss some pitches and I think that is the biggest difference," he said. "It's the swing, the timing. Some of those times I felt just a tick off. Now I am on time and it has been working out."
That it is. Ackley is hitting .358 with eight doubles and five RBI in July.
James Jones, 8
Dustin Ackley, 7
Robinson Cano, 3
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Corey Hart, 9
Logan Morrison, 3
Mike Zunino, 2
Chris Taylor, 6
• Endy Chavez is out of the lineup for the second straight day with an injured pinky. McClendon said it should be fine but for now Chavez is day-to-day.
• James Paxton is making his third rehab start this afternoon and should get up into the 80-pitch range. There is a very good chance we see him make the Aug. 2 start.
• Kendrys Morales took early work at first base before the game. In shorts and a T-shirt, he looks a lot more trim than he looks in his extra baggy uniform. I am told Morales actually reported five pounds down from what he was at the end of last season.