Mariners on the verge of calling up prospect Dustin Ackley

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Speculation last month that the Mariners were close to calling up top prospect Dustin Ackley proved wrong, but now Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes that the former No. 2 overall pick may make his much-anticipated debut Monday.

Projecting call-ups is tricky at this point in the season because the service time ramifications aren’t set in stone, but Baker guesses that he’ll arrive on June 21, on the road against the Nationals.

Selected one pick after Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, Ackley successfully transitioned to second base and is hitting .297 with nine homers and a .902 OPS in 64 games at Triple-A, posting a .415 on-base percentage with more walks (54) than strikeouts (38).

Adam Kennedy and Jack Wilson have been splitting time at second base, so Ackley’s arrival means the Mariners may look to unload Wilson’s contract and move Kennedy to third base, where he’d take playing time away from the struggling Chone Figgins.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.