Updated Sep 14, 2012 - 12:13 am
Ackley and Seager opening eyes in the field
It will be an accomplishment that goes largely unnoticed but there is a very good chance that the Mariners will finish the season with the best fielding percentage in the Major Leagues.
Brendan Ryan, Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro often get their due for their defense but they are hardly doing it on their own. If you were watching Wednesday night you saw one of the better 5-4-3 double plays you are ever going to see.
Dustin Ackley has improved tremendously at second base, but a move to the outfield is still an option. (AP)
I took a look at this double play and the progress of Ackley and Seager on "Beyond the Baselines" on Thursday. For the Rick Rizzs radio call of the play as well as input from Ackley and Ryan, click here.
It was just one double play but it got me thinking. Three years ago Ackley and Seager were teammates at North Carolina. That is a great story in itself and it has got to be almost surreal playing at this level with someone you have been playing with since childhood. To think, however, that these two were in college three years ago playing completely different positions makes what we are seeing even more remarkable.
Seager was a plus second baseman. Ackley was an outfielder playing first after shoulder surgery. Ackley admitted to me after Wednesday's game that he could have never imagined second is where he would be. He thought he was coming to the Mariners to play left. Thanks to a tremendous amount of work put in by these two the Mariners' infield is one of the best defensively in baseball.
As good as it is now it most likely will get better as both are still making strides at their positions. Their ability to master these positions also could pay off in the long run for the organization as it gives general manager Jack Zduriencik flexibility in finding places for much needed bats.
Moving Ackley to the outfield is still an option if necessary. Seager would be even stronger defensively at second and his offensive numbers at that position would be a bonus, too, if they were able to find a big bat for third.
Lots of options, but for now things are working out just fine where they are.
• No word yet on whether or not Kevin Millwood, who left Wednesday night's start with shoulder stiffness, will be available for his next start. "We will have to give him a couple of days before we decide what we are doing," manager Eric Wedge said.
• I think there is a good chance we could see both Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez make starts in the Baltimore series.
• I caught sight of Luis Jimenez wrapping the knob of a new bat with tape in the dugout Thursday. This is no ordinary tape job. He used a whole roll to make an enormous base at the end of the bat. Why? He doesn't want the bat to go flying into the stands and hurt someone, he told me. As for the reason why he was taping a new bat, apparently Jesus Montero borrowed one of his on Wednesday and broke it. "It's okay," Jimenez said with a smile. "He's a good kid. He can use my bats."
• We should see some of our friends who cover Ichiro Friday in Texas as some of them also cover Yu Darvish's starts. There most likely will be a little extra buzz as Darvish will face off against Hisashi Iwakuma. The two met several times in Japan where both had won ERA titles.
• Unlucky seven? Felix Hernandez surrendered a career-high-tying seven runs in a game for the ninth time in his career Thursday night. The last time he did it was also against Toronto on April 4, 2011.
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