Ackley recalled from Tacoma as Gutierrez back on DL
With oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez going back on the 15-day disabled list due to another hamstring issue, the Mariners recalled Dustin Ackley from Triple-A Tacoma before Tuesday night’s game against the Pirates and will play the former first-round pick primarily in the outfield.
Gutierrez reinjured his right hamstring in Sunday’s victory over the A’s. He tried working out with trainers Tuesday afternoon, but the decision to put him on the disabled list was made when that didn’t go well.
Gutierrez has played just 150 of Seattle’s 400 games since the start of the 2011 season and is now on his sixth DL stint in that span. He’d just come off the 60-day DL on Saturday and hit a home run and double that night before hurting himself in the sixth inning Sunday.
“I’m disappointed, like we all are,” said manager Eric Wedge. “Nobody is more disappointed than he is. I’m sure the frustration is just off the charts for him. I can only imagine. But it is what it is, so we’ll get back to work on it and go from there.”
Gutierrez had hit .267 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 games this season. He was an American League Gold Glove outfielder in 2010, his last fully healthy season.
Ackley was optioned to Tacoma on May 26 after hitting .205 with one home run and eight RBIs in 45 games. The 25-year-old had played mostly at second base throughout his big league career, but made 12 starts in the outfield at Triple-A, including nine in center and three in left. In 25 games overall, he hit .365 with eight doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs for the Rainiers.
Ackley wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday as he didn’t arrive from Tacoma until after the team’s pregame batting practice, but will get his chance in an outfield where Michael Saunders has been struggling, Michael Morse is on the 15-day disabled list with a quadriceps injury, Jason Bay is just back from his own hamstring issue and Raul Ibanez and Endy Chavez are 41 and 35 years old, respectively.
“He’s going to play,” Wedge said. “We’re going to get him in there. We’ll keep working him in the outfield, but you might see him in the infield if we need him there.”
Ackley played some outfield in college and summer ball before being moved to first base after Tommy John surgery while he was at North Carolina. The Mariners drafted him as an outfielder, but converted him to second base before his first full season of pro ball.
With rookie Nick Franklin playing well at second base, Ackley now figures to get most of his playing time either in center or left field.
“He’s been good,” Wedge said of the outfield reports from Tacoma. “He’s played free and easy, he moves well, reacts well. Again, I have not seen it, but I have no hesitation to throw him out there.”
It’s Ackley’s bat that got him selected second in the 2009 Draft, however, and the Mariners are encouraged by his performance at the plate in Tacoma.
“He’s earned it,” Wedge said of the youngster’s return. “You look at his at-bats and the consistency down there, I think he’s taken care of some things mentally that he needed to get beyond. And it’s paid for him. He’s a hitter. He’s always hit. He’s going to hit. He just needed to get back to where he needed to get to.”