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MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - INSIDE PITCH
One of several young veterans in a make-or-break season, outfielder Dustin Ackley, has joined catcher Jesus Montero and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez as players trying to adjust to position changes as they cling to their ninth life as Mariners hopefuls.
Of that group, Ackley, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, seems to have had the best adjustment to his new role.
Once considered the Mariners' starting second baseman for the next decade or so, Ackley was moved to the outfield in his latest demotion and has spent a good part of the past two weeks settling in at center field.
His bat is finally starting to come alive (9-for-21 over his past six games) and the adjustment to the outfield has gone more smoothly than might have been expected. And it doesn't hurt that the Mariners are 16-7 when Ackley starts in center.
Ackley entered the 2009 draft as a corner outfielder who also played some first base, and after the Mariners used the second overall pick on him they quickly turned him into a second baseman. Defense was supposed to be the only question in Ackley's game, and yet that has been his greatest strength wherever he has played.
Offense is still a concern for the player once dubbed the next Chase Utley. He's hitting .232 this season and has seen his batting average decline in each of his three years in the majors. But Ackley has been more aggressive at the plate since his June 25 recall from Triple-A Tacoma, and the numbers have been encouraging.
After going 3-for-4 while driving in the go-ahead run Tuesday night, Ackley is hitting .264 (28-for-106) since getting recalled.
Ackley might never regain the potential that made him the first player picked after Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, but at least he's beginning to shed some of the "bust" label that has followed him since the middle of last season.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
PAST 10 GAMES: 5-5
NEXT: Mariners (Joe Saunders, 10-11, 4.69) vs. Rays (Alex Cobb, 6-2, 3.01)
--DH Kendrys Morales went 2-for-4 on Wednesday in a 5-4 Mariners loss at Tampa Bay and is batting .344 (33-for-96) since the All-Star break, including .467 (21-for-45) in 11 road games. He has multiple hits in seven of those road games.
--2B Nick Franklin took over the American League rookie lead with his 35th RBI of the season Wednesday in a 5-4 Mariners' loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. His 14th double of the season put him one off the rookie lead.
--SS Brad Miller collected his team-leading fifth triple Wednesday in the Mariners' 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field. He leads all AL rookies in that category. His five triples in 40 career games are tied for the most in franchise history with Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Dustin Ackley (2011).
--RHP Danny Farquhar took the first loss of his major league career in blowing the save in a 5-4 Mariners defeat by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. He had converted the first five save opportunities of his tenure as closer and retired 28 of 30 batters faced before allowing a triple, two singles and intentional walk.
--LHP Joe Saunders (10-11, 4.69) is expected to make his 25th start of the season Thursday as the Mariners conclude a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Saunders had three straight quality starts in a four-game win streak but allowed seven runs on nine hits in his last start. He has just two career starts against the Rays (0-2, 7.59) and hasn't faced them since 2008.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Bad execution on a lot of pitches. Pitches up in the zone, middle of the plate. Major league hitters take advantage in that situation." -- RHP Danny Farquhar after a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - ROSTER REPORT
--CF Franklin Gutierrez (torn right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list April 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on May 16. He was shut down in early June, but he began a new rehab assignment with Tacoma on June 12. He was activated June 22, but he had to come out in the seventh inning June 23 when his hamstring tightened up. He went back on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 24. He began a rehab assignment with Tacoma on July 18, was shut down for a week in early August, then started a new assignment with Tacoma on Aug. 11.
--C Mike Zunino (fractured hamate bone in left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list July 26. He will have surgery that will keep him out until September.
--RHP Stephen Pryor (torn right lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 15, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on July 19. He has been shut down for the remainder of the season.
--C Jesus Sucre (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6. He began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Arizona League on Aug. 8.
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP Joe Saunders
RHP Aaron Harang
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
RHP Yoervis Medina
LHP Charlie Furbush
LHP Oliver Perez
RHP Danny Farquhar
LHP Lucas Luetge
RHP Brandon Maurer
1B Justin Smoak
2B Nick Franklin
SS Brad Miller
3B Kyle Seager
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Brendan Ryan
LF Raul Ibanez
CF Michael Saunders
RF Michael Morse
OF Endy Chavez
OF/INF Dustin Ackley