Mariners notebook: Leadoff appears to be locked in for Seattle
BALTIMORE – At the bottom of yesterday’s post I had a note about Austin Jackson’s tremendous July and why he thought he was able to have success that month.
“I think moving back to the top of the lineup definitely had a little to do with that just because that’s where I have hit all of my career,” he told me. “Trying to make the adjustment from getting on base and trying to score runs to trying to drive runs in is a big adjustment. I think once I could clear my mind of worrying about trying to get this run in so much, I was kind of able to relax and play my game.”
The Tigers had bumped Jackson from the leadoff spot after the acquisition of Rajai Davis. Davis is well-suited for the role and the Tigers thought that Jackson had the potential to be not only a table-setter but a run producer as well, so he was moved down in the order. He hit .242/.309/.355/.664 over the first three months of the season, and on July 1 he was moved back to the top of the order and hit .349/.390/.505/.894 that month.
Does this mean Jackson is locked into the leadoff spot for the long term? Maybe, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon – who worked with Jackson since his rookie season as the Tigers hitting coach – believes we could see more soon from Jackson at the top of the order.
“I think he is well-rounded,” McClendon said before Sunday’s series finale against Baltimore. “I think he is capable of hitting 16-20 home runs a year. He’s hit .300 and scored a lot of runs. I think the past five years he is probably top two or three in runs scored. Obviously, the offense they have there has something to do with it, but him getting on base had something to do with that as well. But I think he is at a point now were he is close to being that complete player, that complete two-way player that is going to hit .300, 15 home runs, score 100 and drive in 70 from the leadoff spot, and that’s a pretty good leadoff hitter.”
McClendon says he’s seen enough of Jackson to believe that this projection is not just “a fascination that he should be able to do it year in and out.”
“It’s a matter of him doing it consistently because he has done it,” McClendon said. “That’s the next step for him, is to be that consistent player every year.”
If that is the case, it might not be a bad idea to sign him up for a few more years.
Austin Jackson, 8
Dustin Ackley, 7
Robinson Cano, 4
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Chris Denorfia, 9
Logan Morrison, 3
Mike Zunino, 2
Brad Miller, 6
• I am hearing that the Mariners’ workout with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo – which was scheduled to take place today – has been postponed but will be rescheduled. Nearly every team in baseball has attended showcases for Castillo or seen him in private workouts in the last week and the Mariners are certainly interested in the 27-year-old, who is represented by Roc Nation.
• Michael Saunders has been given a few days off from swinging but did throw in the outfield today. The plan is to re-evaluate him Tuesday in Seattle, and the hope is he will be ready for a rehab assignment by the end of the week.
• According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees were very interested in trading for Dustin Ackley but were not willing to give up the pitching prospect that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was asking for. I have heard that a number of teams, including the A’s, were interested in Ackley but not at any sort of a premium price. Scouts I talked to saw him as a project that needed a change of scenery.
• Brad Miller is at shortstop today, but that does not mean McClendon is going with a platoon at the position with Miller and Chris Taylor, although he is looking at matchups.
“I’m going to play the guy that I think gives us the best chance to win that particular day,” he said. “This guy is pretty tough on righties. We’ll see if Miller can spark us. Short ballpark. Hell, he might hit one out. You never know.”