PEORIA, Ariz. – Dustin Ackley thinks the Seattle Mariners have the bats to improve an offense that finished last in the majors in runs last season.
They sure looked OK on Monday.
Ackley had three hits to lead the Mariners to a 13-7 exhibition victory over the San Diego Padres.
“We’ve improved up and down the lineup,” Ackley said. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
The Mariners averaged 3.43 runs per game last season, but they could turn it around in a hurry if Ackley puts together a breakout year.
The second overall pick in the 2009 draft is expected to hit second behind Chone Figgins, who is returning to the leadoff spot. Ichiro Suzuki will hit third this season.
But if Figgins falters, Ackley, who hit .273 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 90 games last season, could move into the top spot.
Ackley batted first on Monday and doubled to left-center against Dustin Moseley in the first inning. Ackley, who scored two runs, singled to right in the third and also tripled to center to start the fifth.
The second baseman said he doesn’t care where he hits because he figures he’ll be surrounded by good hitters, especially after the Mariners acquired Jesus Montero from the Yankees in January.
“I’ve hit in all different positions,” Ackley said. “I feel comfortable and I’m not going to change my approach wherever I’m at. We’ve got a lot of great bats in the lineup. Wherever you look, we’ve got guys who can swing it. Getting Montero is going to help. He’s a special hitter.”
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed a run and three hits in one inning. He also struggled in an intrasquad game last week.
Iwakuma agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Seattle in January. The deal also includes a little over $3 million in possible incentives.
“I kind of regret too many pitches,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I’m getting better every time, but I have to pitch more innings next time.”
• The Padres and Mariners have agreed to a 20-year lease extension with the city of Peoria that will keep both teams’ spring training camps in the Phoenix suburb through 2034.