With Gutierrez on DL, Mariners recall Ackley
First-round pick from '09 shifting from second base to outfield
SEATTLE -- Dustin Ackley is back with the Mariners, and he has a new position.
With oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez going back on the 15-day disabled list due to another hamstring issue, the Mariners recalled Ackley from Triple-A Tacoma before Tuesday night's game against the Pirates and will play the former first-round pick primarily in the outfield.
Gutierrez reinjured his right hamstring in Sunday's victory over the A's. He tried working out with trainers Tuesday afternoon, but the decision to put him on the disabled list was made when that didn't go well.
Gutierrez has played just 150 of Seattle's 400 games since the start of the 2011 season and is now on his sixth DL stint in that span. He'd just come off the 60-day DL on Saturday and hit a home run and double that night before hurting himself in the sixth inning Sunday.
"I'm disappointed, like we all are," said manager Eric Wedge. "Nobody is more disappointed than he is. I'm sure the frustration is just off the charts for him. I can only imagine. But it is what it is, so we'll get back to work on it and go from there."
Gutierrez had hit .267 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 games this season. He was an American League Gold Glove outfielder in 2010, his last fully healthy season.
Ackley was optioned to Tacoma on May 26 after hitting .205 with one home run and eight RBIs in 45 games. The 25-year-old had played mostly at second base throughout his big league career, but made 12 starts in the outfield at Triple-A, including nine in center and three in left. In 25 games overall, he hit .365 with eight doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs for the Rainiers.
Ackley wasn't in the lineup Tuesday, as he didn't arrive from Tacoma until after the team's pregame batting practice, but will get his chance in an outfield where Michael Saunders has been struggling, Michael Morse is on the 15-day disabled list with a quadriceps injury, Jason Bay is just back from his own hamstring issue, and Raul Ibanez and Endy Chavez are 41 and 35 years old, respectively.
"He's going to play," Wedge said. "We're going to get him in there. We'll keep working him in the outfield, but you might see him in the infield if we need him there."
Ackley played some outfield in college and summer ball before being moved to first base after Tommy John surgery while he was at North Carolina. The Mariners drafted him as an outfielder but converted him to second base before his first full season of pro ball.
With rookie Nick Franklin playing well at second base, Ackley now figures to get most of his playing time either in center or left field.
"He's been good," Wedge said of the outfield reports from Tacoma. "He's played free and easy, he moves well, reacts well. Again, I have not seen it, but I have no hesitation to throw him out there."
It's Ackley's bat that got him selected second in the 2009 Draft, however, and the Mariners are encouraged by his performance at the plate in Tacoma.
"He's earned it," Wedge said of the youngster's return. "You look at his at-bats and the consistency down there, I think he's taken care of some things mentally that he needed to get beyond. And it's paid for him. He's a hitter. He's always hit. He's going to hit. He just needed to get back to where he needed to get to."
Raul on impressive power surge at age 41
SEATTLE -- With three home runs in his past two games going into Tuesday's series opener against the Pirates, Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez has continued a torrid stretch during which he's hit 15 of his 17 home runs since May 10.
Baltimore's Chris Davis is the only American League player with more homers during that span, with 17.
"Raul has been off the charts," manager Eric Wedge said.
Ibanez's eight long balls in June are tied for the most in the AL this month, joining Davis, Adam Dunn of the White Sox and Evan Longoria of the Rays.
Most impressive is the fact that Ibanez is doing this at age 41. He's just the 11th player in Major League history to hit 15 or more home runs at age 41 or older. The record for most homers in a season by a player 41 or older is 29 by Ted Williams in 1960.
Ibanez hit 19 home runs last season for the Yankees in 384 at-bats. He'd had 208 at-bats this season going into Tuesday's game, giving him a home run every 12.24 at-bats. Among players with 10 or more homers so far this season, only Davis (one every 10.30) and Atlanta's Evan Gattis (one every 11.64) have a higher ratio.
Since May 10, Ibanez's ratio is one home run every 9.80 at-bats.
• When Kendrys Morales hit his three-run walk-off home run Sunday to beat the A's in the bottom of the 10th, he joined Ken Phelps (Sept. 3, 1986) as the only players in Mariners history to hit a walk-off homer as a pinch-hitter.
• Mariners outfielders had 41 home runs going into Tuesday's game, putting them second in the Majors behind the 45 by Colorado's outfielders.
• The Mariners' 31 shutouts in Interleague Play is the most in the Majors since the two leagues began crossing over in 1997. The Mets are second on that list at 23.
• Backup catcher Jesus Sucre is now eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, as soon as his left wrist contusion heals, but manager Eric Wedge said that still isn't close to happening.
"He's getting there," Wedge said. "It's just hurry up and wait, pretty much, on that thing. It'll still be a little while though."