With Jack Wilson hitting .250/.282/.288 on the season, it’s almost time.
Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect, has rebounded from a poor April to hit .359/.475/.594 with three homers 13 RBI and a 7/15 K/BB ratio in 64 at-bats this month for Triple-A Tacoma.
The Mariners actually have gotten decent production from second base overall, but that’s mostly Adam Kennedy and he can play first and third as well. The Mariners have been holding out hope that Wilson would play well enough to bring back a prospect before the deadline, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. By the time June 1 rules around, releasing him and moving on to Ackley is going to be the obvious move, particularly since waiting that long should guarantee that Ackley won’t be a super-two arbitration eligible after 2013.
Ackley isn’t likely to be a star right away. It took him time to adjust to Triple-A, and the jump to the majors will be even more difficult. Plus, there are still questions about whether the former first baseman and center fielder will last at second defensively.
The 23-year-old Ackley is ready for his first opportunity, though. He possesses 15-homer power, and with his on-base skills, he could be the solution in the two hole the Mariners thought they were getting when they signed Chone Figgins. The Seattle lineup is badly in need of a boost, and while Franklin Gutierrez’s return should help some, Ackley is their best hope of providing it.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.