PEORIA, Ariz. – It hardly came as a surprise when the Seattle Mariners optioned highly regarded prospect Dustin Ackley to Class AAA Tacoma on Wednesday.
The Mariners, scouts and even Ackley have said he could use more time in the minor leagues to continue his conversion from the outfield to second base.
But, before Ackley made his way from the major league clubhouse over to the other side at the Mariners’ spring training complex, he made one thing clear:
He says he is ready for the big leagues.
“Whenever they call, I’ll be ready,” said Ackley, who the Mariners took with the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, then decided last year to move to second base.
He batted .269 in the big-league camp.
“You can’t be surprised by anything in this game. You have to be prepared,” Ackley said after he was sent down. “It’s a process. I made a lot of improvements in camp, in all three areas – hitting, defense and base-running. Like I was telling a coach today, I don’t know how I did it a year ago, when I’d never played second base.”
Nobody doubts that Ackley can hit at the major league level. The Mariners believe he needs more work at second base. Ackley played first base and outfield in college.
That doesn’t mean Ackley won’t be a confident player when he is called up.
“What they want me to do is just get better, play more games, get more reps,” he said. “I can’t be negative about being sent down. I understand. I feel like I can play here right now, but I can get better at second base. I can be better, but I think I could handle it now.”
Olivo back in the crouch
Eighteen days after Miguel Olivo crumpled at home plate with a strained left groin, he caught three innings in a minor league game Wednesday and said he will be ready for opening day.
Olivo will need to catch more next week to prove it, but Wednesday was a positive first step. He caught Jason Vargas and even asked the left-hander to bury a curveball in the dirt so he could work on blocking a ball.
“I asked Jason to throw his breaking ball down, and he did and I blocked it,” Olivo said.