Is ‘sooner’ soon enough for Mariners to promote Ackley?

COMMENTARY: Dustin Ackley has talent to play in majors, but when will he get call?

May 22, 2011 

During the course of a baseball season, you get hit with several Mariners related questions via e-mail, Twitter, blog comments and conversation.

One question gets asked most often.

“When is Dustin Ackley going to be called up?”


Because he’s the Mariners’ top prospect and one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball. Because fans love the potential associated with him. Because he represents a future where the concepts of offense and hitting are more than hopes and dreams.

A report last week got Mariners fans’ hopes up that Ackley might soon join the team. It didn’t happen. Fans will have to wait.

Ackley has a simple attitude when it comes to speculation about his call-up.

“Until somebody comes up and tells me in person, then I’m not going to believe anything that anyone says,” he said.

That doesn’t mean Ackley wasn’t aware that there were reports he was going to be called up last week.

“I heard several things about it,” he said. “But I didn’t hear anything personally. So it’s just talk.”

Rainiers manager Daren Brown also heard the talk. It wasn’t unexpected. He’d been through the same thing when Adam Jones was in Tacoma.

“I know that sometimes guys get hot, guys that the fans and media know, and they start doing their own processing,” he said.

Ackley has been hot in May, hitting .342 (27-for-79) with six doubles, four homers and 14 RBI in his past 19 games, posting an on-base percentage of .442 and .570 slugging percentage. He raised his batting average from .210 to .270 in 16 games.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Ackley said. “I feel confident and it’s just a matter of keeping it going.”

Perhaps instead of asking when is Ackley going to be called up, the better question is: When should the Mariners call up Ackley?

That might be even more difficult to answer.

There are several factors when it comes to bringing up Ackley, namely his defense.

Some question Ackley’s ability to play second base. They shouldn’t. Ackley made the transition to second base before the start of the 2010 season. Admittedly, it was far from pretty.

“At the beginning of last year, I would have said I was probably a little lost in Double-A,” he said. “I didn’t have much game experience. But I was able to progress.”

He isn’t lost now.

“Before I just wasn’t comfortable when it came to double plays and things like that,” he said. “Now I’m comfortable in every aspect.”

Brown said Ackley can handle his defensive duties.

“I don’t worry about him out there,” Brown said. “He’s making the routine plays. From what I’ve seen, he just hasn’t made the same mistake over and over. If he makes a mistake, he learns from it.”

Is he Roberto Alomar defensively? No, not yet. He may never be. But it’s not as if the Mariners have been putting Alomar types at second base in recent seasons.

There is a factor with Ackley’s contract, specifically his future contract. If the Mariners call up Ackley too soon he could achieve what is called Super Two status. Basically it would mean that he qualifies for salary arbitration after three years, not four. Basically, the Mariners might have to pay him significantly more sooner than expected.

Usually to avoid a player reaching Super Two, teams have to delay his call-up until about mid-June. The Mariners have waited this long for Ackley, so they could wait a little longer.

So when is it going to happen? When is Ackley going to be called up?

General manager Jack Zdurienick has said, “sooner rather than later.”

For many Mariners fans, that’s not soon enough.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483

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