Ackley’s struggles, Noesi’s progress and more days off for Ichiro

Jun 25, 2012, 12:24 AM | Updated: 9:57 am

By Shannon Drayer

Dustin Ackley struck out in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ game against the Padres on Sunday. It was his 66th strikeout of the year, which gave him the team lead. I didn’t see that one coming.

Ackley has been struggling at the plate for most of the year. I think what we are seeing is what you see with most young hitters. The constant yo-yo of pitchers making the adjustment and the hitter being forced to make the next adjustment. I think Ackley is a little more human at the plate than we expected him to be. This isn’t the path I saw him taking but I think the outcome ultimately will be the same. It might just take him a bit longer to turn into the hitter he has been in the past.

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Dustin Ackley is hitting .243 and leads the Mariners with 66 strikeouts. (AP)

We have seen Ackley’s average drop to .243 and his slugging percentage to .338. Eric Wedge has given him days off here and there and dropped him in the order. I asked Wedge after Sunday’s game if Ackley needed to make any drastic changes.

“I don’t think so,” Wedge answered. “I still think it’s more about his approach and mindset. Recognizing what they’re doing to him. He’s going to have to make some adjustments. I know he’s in the process of trying to do that.”

Wedge is well aware of the strikeouts but is confident that what we are watching now will not be a career trend for Ackley. He believes he has far too many tools at the plate for this to continue for long. He had no trouble throwing his support behind his second baseman.

“I know he’s frustrated right now. He’s going to be fine,” Wedge said. “He needs to recognize what’s been going on for a period of time and take that away from the opposition. That’s what he has to do. We’ll help him get there.”

“He needs to be a little bit better with his direction, his approach at the plate,” Wedge continued. “He had a good break-in year last year and they are pitching him tough. He just has to make that adjustment and take it away from them.”

Twice Wedge referred to taking a weapon away from the opposition. Just what would that be? Well, during Ackley’s hitless series against San Diego it was pretty apparent what the pitchers were doing. Away, away, away, away they pitched him. Why? In the simplest of terms, Ackley has been drifting forward at the plate and that is a location pitchers believed he could not get to right now. How simple a fix is that? Well we shall see.

While Ackley continued to struggle, we saw a solid performance from Hector Noesi. He did give up a couple of two-strike hits and a 1-2 walk but he also got out of trouble in multiple innings. Wedge liked what he saw in the consistency of his delivery, use of his pitches and the ability to get out of trouble. I asked Wedge how much of what we saw Sunday was related to an awareness of where he was in his last start and his preparation.

“I know that he has worked hard from the previous start from now,” Wedge said. “He is a hard worker but I think he is working smarter. He has a better understanding now of what he needs to do to be successful, I think he has bought into it. It is just a matter of him now doing the same things he was doing between starts again and going out there and giving us a chance to win the next one.”

Last note: Ichiro is 11 for 22 since his day off. According to Wedge he will see more of those going forward.

“We will pick some other spots for him to give him another day,” he said. “I just think it helps him. It is not a bad thing. Whatever we can do to get the most production from all of our guys is what we are going to do. If that means giving Ichi a day off here or there, that’s what we are going to do.”

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Ackley’s struggles, Noesi’s progress and more days off for Ichiro