Things have not clicked for Ackley just yet, making him the subject of trade rumors earlier this off-season. The Mariners ended up hanging onto Ackley, and now their plan is to move him to left field. He did play 59 games in the outfield last season, though most of that action was in center field.
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes the following about the Mariners’ plan:
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Friday that Ackley is being looked at as a left fielder despite playing 50 of his 59 outfield games in center in 2013. Asked why left and not center for Ackley, McClendon replied, ‘Because that’s where I want him.’
Ackley’s arm strength, or lack thereof, is a likely factor. McClendon said he’d like Corey Hart, coming back from two knee surgeries, to be in right field. Hart has looked good physically so far, though the Mariners are not pushing him in some of the more stringent drills.
The Mariners have fluidity throughout their roster, having mostly to do with the outfield. They need Ackley to improve on his last couple seasons. After a 2.9 fWAR season as a rookie, Ackley’s production has been unsteady; in 2013 he managed a .253/.319/.341 slash line in 113 games last season. They will be monitoring his production as well as Hart’s health in right field as they try to piece together a productive enough lineup to matter in the American League West.