As it turns out, a struggling hitter in a new position is still … a struggling hitter.
That’s what the Seattle Mariners are finding out these days with Dustin Ackley, who recently returned from a one-month exile to the minor leagues to take his place as the team’s new center fielder while M’s are short on outfielders with both Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse out of action on the DL.
The relative change of scenery, however, hasn’t helped Ackley take advantage of the new opportunity to re-establish himself as a key piece in the organization.
Including Friday’s 0-for-2, one-walk performance in a winning effort against the Cincinnati Reds, the 25-year old has managed to notch just a pair of hits in 21 PA (19 AB) since being recalled from the minors, good for a .105 average with no counting numbers to speak off other than a couple of RBIs and a pair of walks.
Undoubtedly, that can’t be what the M’s expected to see after the second baseman looked to be all but ‘fixed’ after 25 games in Triple-A, putting together a strong .365/.472/.500 line through 126 PA with a very strong 1.36 BB/K that made it look like the Ackley of old had returned to form.
Though it’s been a very small sample of plate appearances since his return, there’s obviously still some issues with the jump to the major league level that the young star has yet to resolve.
His struggles have been well-covered so there’s no real need to go through it here, but considering that he’s had his share of success during his 2.9 breakout rookie season and his success in the minors, Seattle must consider the issue to be more than simple mechanical issues that sending him back to the minors will fix once the outfield is healthy again.
Because at this point, that’s exactly where Ackley is headed if his struggles with the bat continue.
And if it does … at which point do the Mariners ask themselves the question of whether if they’d still want the former top prospect as part of their future plans given that he’ll be 26-years old at the start of 2014, and quickly running out of time to make good on the potential he showed in his rookie season?