Ackley to try second base in January
Mariners want outfield prospect to attempt new position
Dustin Ackley will start in left field for the Peoria Javelinas in Saturday's Arizona Fall League championship game against the Phoenix Desert Dogs, but the Mariners are going to work him out at second base, beginning in January, general manager Jack Zduriencik said Friday.
"This could be an experiment that lasts two weeks or a month," Zduriencik said, "but to me, the sensible thing to do is have players play multiple positions. We thought this would be a worthwhile experiment and we'll see where it takes us. We're not etching this in stone or saying this is a career move."
The Mariners' first-round Draft choice last June -- the second overall selection -- played shortstop in high school and switched to the outfield at the University of North Carolina. He played center field in his freshman and sophomore seasons and was moved to first base for his junior season after having Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow.
Zduriencik said this in no way is related to the Mariners' current second baseman Jose Lopez, who has been reluctant to move to first base on a permanent basis.
The GM said he likes the idea of Minor League players playing several positions during their development years, and mentioned Bill Hall and J.C. Hardy as players who started their careers in one position and moved to others.
Seattle has done the same thing over the years. Lopez was signed as a shortstop, as was Matt Tuiasosopo, a potential replacement for Adrian Beltre at third base in 2010.
Ackley attended the Arizona Instructional League before moving to the AFL and was given some work at second base. The Mariners infield instructors liked what they saw.
The left-handed hitter will return home after Saturday's game and return to Arizona sometime in January to begin the second-base workouts.
"The idea is we want to get a jump on Spring Training," Zduriencik said, adding that the second-base seed was planted by Ackley's college coach, who suggested that the three-time All-American would be a good second baseman some day.
The experiment has been discussed with Ackley "and he likes it," Zduriencik said. "He thinks it's a good idea."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.