CLEVELAND – With the Mariners struggling to score runs for the better part of a month, manager Lloyd McClendon has made his most sweeping changes in the lineup to date.
Dustin Ackley and Chris Taylor are now at the top of the order while Corey Hart and James Jones are at the bottom. Production at the top has been one of the many problems the Mariners have had in the last month, and this is an attempt to remedy that.
“Just trying to jump start our offense,” McClendon said of the changes. “We have lost five one-run games in the last week. Just trying to do something different and hopefully we can jump-start guys, put some speed at the bottom with Jones and speed at the top and see what happens.”
Ackley comes into Tuesday’s series opener against the Indians batting .375 in July and .425 since the All-Star break. For him, the success all starts with his swing.
“It’s all about getting your swing to a point where you are just hitting it where it’s pitched,” he said. “You’ve got to find that in the cage, in the game. For me that has been working. When you are trying to go the other way you get into positions where you can’t pull the ball or you can’t do this, for me its just going out there seeing it and hitting it and my swing has been in a spot to do that lately.”
McClendon likes what he has seen.
“He’s attacking the outside pitch, swinging at strikes and he gets some positive results,” McClendon said.
As for Jones, it has been a struggle for some time with his average dropping from .292 in June to .211 in July. Jones himself has said that he doesn’t pay much attention to the numbers, that getting on base by whatever means is what is important to him. He simply hasn’t been doing that. He took two walks in June and has three in July. He has had two bunts for hits this year, somewhat of a surprise considering his speed.
Beyond this, the struggles he is having at the plate are not uncommon for a rookie and McClendon is doing what he can do to try and move him forward.
“Keep running him out there and make sure that he understands that this is the big leagues and every player that has ever played in the history of the game has struggled at some point,” McClendon said he told Jones. “It is no different for him than anybody else. How you define it will depend on you. Hell, you can’t hide him, he’s got to play.”
Dustin Ackley, 7
Chris Taylor, 6
Robinson Cano, 4
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Mike Zunino, 2
Logan Morrison, 3
Corey Hart, 9
James Jones, 8
• While it is not always all about the longball, the Mariners could use a few. They have hit just 10 in July, putting them on target for the second-worst monthly home run total in team history.
• LHP James Paxton is with the team and will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. While a Saturday starter has yet to be named, it most likely will be Paxton if the bullpen session goes well.
• OF Michael Saunders is also with the team and is eligible to come off the disabled list at any time. He has progressed to hitting on the field and throwing from 90 feet. He is hoping that he will be sent on a short rehab assignment before the end of the week.
• SS Chris Taylor is getting the start Tuesday despite Cleveland throwing a righty. McClendon said Brad Miller will start Wednesday.
• GM Jack Zduriencik and a number of his assistants are here in Cleveland along with scouting director Tom McNamara and Chris Gwynn, the Mariners’ director of player development.
• 3B DJ Peterson is back in action and in the lineup for Double-A Jackson Tuesday after missing a few days with a bruised wrist.