SEATTLE -- Being in a 1-for-29 slump in his past seven games has done nothing to help Dustin Ackley's difficult first full season, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge has given his second baseman a stamp of approval.
Wedge said he talked to Ackley on Wednesday, and despite Ackley hitting just .220 with a team-high 85 strikeouts entering Thursday, Wedge believes he's showing good signs at the plate.
"The last two or three days, I've liked the way he's swung the bat," Wedge said. "He's had some tough luck. He's hit some balls hard. Guys have made plays on him. He's just missed a few balls, too. Sometimes those popups, they look like a popup, but it's a good swing, you just catch the bottom half of the ball. You're that far away from squaring it up.
"I just want him to hang in there mentally. Stay strong mentally and trust your approach. That's kind of where I feel he's at. He's been pretty good with that. For a young man, he's pretty consistent with his actions."
Ackley hit .273 in 90 games last year after being recalled in mid-June, and there was hope he could duplicate that success in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Starting the season hitting second in the order, the 24-year-old hasn't been able to produce the type of results the Mariners had hoped for.
Wedge has re-inserted him at the top of the lineup, though, and says he feels it is where Ackley fits best. Despite some of his offensive struggles, Ackley has drawn a team-high 42 walks and Wedge believes it's a matter of getting through the downs to get to the ups.
"Everybody has a different way of reacting to failure or success," Wedge said. "As long as you're consistent with it and you're handling it inside as well as you're handling it outside, that's the key. With the way we've been offensively, everybody's had their moment with frustration. You have to channel that and you have to handle it appropriately.
"It's such a grind, it's a long season. We've got two and a half months left or whatever it is and that's a lot of games, a lot of at-bats, a lot of innings and that's a lot of time. Dustin just needs to hang in there and keep working on what he's working on and trust it's going to play out in the field."
Seager continues to produce in the clutch
SEATTLE -- With the bases loaded, two outs and the Mariners needing an insurance run late in Wednesday's game against the Yankees, Kyle Seager dribbled a check-swing infield single down the third-base line.
If there are two outs, it seems as if Seager always finds a way to get runners home. Entering Thursday's game against the Royals, he was tied with Andre Ethier for most two-out RBIs in the Major Leagues, with 34.
It's not just with two outs, though. Put runners in scoring position and it is likely Seager will find a way to get on base. The third baseman entered Thursday hitting .667 (6-for-9) with 14 RBIs with the bases loaded and .348 (31-for-89) with runners in scoring position this season.
The latest example came with the bases loaded in the first inning on Wednesday. Seager fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and forced in a run with a walk on the 10th pitch of the at-bat for his team-leading 60th RBI.
"Some guys thrive in those situations, and he's one of them," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Whether it be just RBI situations or clutch situations, two-out situations or whatever it may be. Half the battle is wanting to be there and I definitely feel that from him. Then it's just about production -- he's been great with that this year.
"I just think when you're in those clutch situations, you usually go one way or the other way, he goes the right way. That's why he's been able to step up so many times."
Mariners look for more production vs. Royals
SEATTLE -- A week after perhaps the best four-game offensive stretch the Mariners have enjoyed this season, they will again face the Royals team they did that damage against. In the four-game set last week in Kansas City, the Mariners hit .325 with eight home runs and 20 extra-base hits.
But manager Eric Wedge warned that just because the Mariners will again face the Royals for a four-game series, the results might not be fireworks.
"From the carry-over standpoint, I don't know," Wedge said. "I'd love for us to hit like that again. The fact of the matter is -- what we're working to try to do is -- regardless of who we're playing or what we're playing, is to be a better offensive club. That's from pitch to pitch from hitter to hitter.
"These guys are working hard at it, we're going to get it. We've had a tough couple days offensively, but we swung the bats well in Kansas City. That's what we're working to get back to."
This time, though, the teams will be facing off in Seattle. It's no secret that the Mariners are a different offensive club at home than on the road. Seattle is hitting just .193 at Safeco Field entering Thursday, while their road average is .255. It has been a season-wide struggle for the Mariners to turn their fortunes around at home.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has returned home to Japan for personal reasons, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he expects him to return on Saturday and not miss his scheduled Monday start.
Carlos Peguero continues to start in right field since Ichiro Suzuki -- who manned the position for more than 11 seasons for the Mariners -- was traded on Monday. Wedge said Peguero can play either right or left field, while Casper Wells, who has become the regular left fielder, can play any outfield position.
"Right now, it just seems to make sense," Wedge said of keeping Peguero in right. "Over his career, I think he's played out there more than anywhere else."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.