Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon contends that signing veteran Rickie Weeks in mid-February wasn’t done to send a message to Dustin Ackley.
But it seems the pair will form a platoon in left field this season as Seattle looks for more production on offense coming off an 87-75 year in which run production was a recurring problem.
“We’re trying to get better,” McClendon said Wednesday in Peoria before the club’s first full-squad workout of spring training, according to The News Tribune. “Rickie Weeks is a good player that can help us win ballgames.”
“I think the combination of both those guys out there should produce a left fielder where you have a combination of 20-25 home runs and 100-plus RBIs. Now you’ve got something.”
First, Weeks, 32, must learn left field during spring training after playing exclusively second base during the first 11 years of his career, all with the Milwaukee Brewers. Mariners All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, as you might recall, still has nine years left on his contract.
Weeks, a former All-Star, should be useful regardless. The right-handed hitter is formidable facing left-handed pitching, with a .261/.385/.448 career slash line.
As for Ackley?
He got off to an awful start in 2014, hitting .225 with four home runs and 29 RBIs at the All-Star break before rebounding to finish the year with a .245 average, 14 home runs and 65 RBIs.
The bulk of the left-handed hitter’s success came against right-handers (.259/.310/.442). That would suggest that more days off against tough southpaws might help the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft finally lift his .245 career average to where the club expected it when Ackley left the University of North Carolina.
- During his first media session of spring training, Cano said that “On paper we look like world champions…”
- Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist said he’s “ready to go” after he had microfracture surgery on his right knee last August, but the Mariners are making him ease into spring training.
- McClendon acknowledged the Mariners have high expectations entering 2015. He’s OK with it. But he doesn’t want his players to get caught up in the hype. Also of note: Newly-acquired OF Justin Ruggiano will serve as center fielder Austin Jackson’s primary backup.
- Felix Hernandez vacationed through Turkey, Austria and the Czech Republic during the first part of his offseason before starting training. He checked into camp down six pounds — 212 to 206 — and he’s motivated to avenge the AL Cy Young snub from last season.