07/08/11 10:01 PM ET
Relievers Aardsma, Kelley making progress
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Aardsma has been out since undergoing offseason hip surgery, with a forearm injury then cropping up during his initial Minor League rehab run.
The Mariners are being cautious with their injured closer, but he appears to be getting close to where he can start another rehab assignment.
"He's feeling pretty good," manager Eric Wedge said. "He looked good. He's making progress. We're now getting to the point in time where we'll see how it's going to play out. We've been down this road before with him. I think we're getting far along enough now that we'll find out if he's going to be able to play."
Wedge said he hadn't finalized things yet with trainer Rick Griffin, but Aardsma likely would throw off the bullpen mound at least once more before any decisions are made.
Kelley, coming back from partial Tommy John surgery, isn't as far along as Aardsma after suffering his own setback when he started a Minor League stint. He threw easily from the front of the mound on Friday and said he'll move partway up the hill on Sunday. He hopes to throw a full bullpen session after next week's All-Star break.
"Right now it feels good," Kelley said. "Hopefully it keeps up. We'll work our way up the mound, work the intensity up and hopefully in a couple weeks I'll be firing full speed and will be ready for a rehab stint."
For now, both relievers are just glad to be along on the road trip, working with the team and making progress again.
"Any time I get to put my real spikes on it's a good day," Kelley said. "It's always fun, even if it's just throwing light and not even all the way up on the rubber. It's just nice to be in the bullpen and on the dirt and have the catcher down and stuff like that. It gives you a feeling that you're getting there."
Wedge moves Ackley to No. 3 spot in lineup
ANAHEIM -- Three weeks into his Major League career, Dustin Ackley has moved into the No. 3 spot in the Mariners lineup for the first time, as manager Eric Wedge continues searching for offensive solutions.
The 23-year-old has hit fifth for the majority of his brief time in Seattle, with 42 at-bats there, though he's also had appearances at the Nos. 2, 6, 7 and 8 spots in the order as well.
But with Adam Kennedy sitting out on Friday and Justin Smoak struggling, Wedge put the rookie in the key three-spot, moved catcher Miguel Olivo to cleanup and dropped Smoak down to fifth.
"We haven't created a great deal of opportunities for ourselves, but when we do, we've got to have the right guy up there," Wedge said. "And I think Dustin has been putting up as good of at-bats as anybody. As we try to continue to push forward with our offense -- and Kennedy needs a day off today -- it's a good opportunity to put him in the three-hole and see where it plays out.
"I dropped Smoak down a spot," said Wedge. "He's been scuffling a little bit. That lets him see another hitter ahead of him and allows Miggy to hit in the four-hole. He's done some things for us here from time to time. Same story right now. We're just trying to find something."
Ackley is hitting .298 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 17 games. He's quickly become the Mariners' most consistent hitter, having hit safely in 15 of those games.
The professional approach and results have given Wedge confidence quickly in the second overall pick in the 2009 Draft.
"I like it when he's coming up to home plate," said Wedge. "You feel good when he goes up there. He's been pretty consistent for us."
Ackley has proven to be a smart baserunner as well. On Thursday he went from first to third on a ground ball deep in the hole at short, never hesitating when the Angels' Erick Aybar made a long throw that gave him time to zip into third with the ball never leaving the infield.
"I knew he was deep and wouldn't have much on that throw," Ackley said. "I hadn't really had that opportunity come up, but that's just one of those things you see happening and know he's not going to get the ball over there too quickly. I just took off and took a chance."
Wedge appreciates that confident approach from a youngster still getting his feet wet at the big league level.
"He's been aggressive and his instincts have been good on the bases," Wedge said. "I like the way he's not afraid to take some risks from time to time. We need more of that."
Seager feeling more at ease following debut
ANAHEIM -- Rookie Kyle Seager was back in the lineup on Friday after an 0-for-4 debut with two strikeouts on Thursday, saying he felt much more relaxed after a break-in game that wasn't made easier by the presence of opposing pitcher Jered Weaver.
"I feel a little better today, for sure," Seager said. "I've got that first one under my belt and can calm down."
Seager said his heart finally began to slow after the first ground ball hit to him at third base on Thursday.
"About the middle of the game I started to really calm down and just play," he said. "It was definitely nerve-wracking at the beginning, and was really exciting leading up to it. It's still really exciting, trust me, but I feel a little more relaxed."
As for facing Weaver, the likely American League starter in Tuesday's All-Star Game?
"He's got some deception in his delivery," said the youngster. "You watch his curveball on TV and it really doesn't do it justice. He can mix speeds, he was in and out, up and down. He was everywhere. I understand why he's leading the Majors in ERA. He's pretty good."
Weaver threw Seager two nasty curveballs in his first at-bat, including a two-strike beauty that Seager swung through.
"It was bigger than I thought it was going to be," Seager said. "The first one I was out in front of a little bit, just trying to swing a little too hard. The last one I tried to stay deep and it broke a little more than I was expecting. I saw it, I just didn't let it get deep enough. And it was a little down, too. That's a tough pitch to lay off. But, hey, you've got to see it before you know how to deal with it."