02/20/12 7:05 PM EST
Bigger Ackley looking to turn on power
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Ackley, 24, isn't the biggest guy in the clubhouse, but he checked in at a solid 6-foot-1, 195 pounds last week and has shown solid line-drive power in early batting practice sessions.
"I feel a lot better," Ackley said. "I gained a few pounds this offseason and feel a lot stronger. I didn't have a Fall League or anything this year, so I had that time to work out and rest and get some more swings in. It was good. I think a year under my belt helps and I had a [workout] program I really liked."
Ackley hit .273 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 90 games last year as a rookie and spent much of the second half of the season batting third for Wedge. He'll likely land somewhere in the first three spots in the order this year, with Wedge even mentioning him as a potential leadoff candidate along with Chone Figgins if he decides to move Ichiro Suzuki out of that role.
Ackley's .348 on-base percentage last year and plate discipline make that a possibility, but his run-producing capabilities might lend more to batting second or third.
The North Carolina native struggled in the final month last year, hitting just .219 in September after entering that month with a .295 average. Unknown at the time was the fact Ackley was dealing with a hamstring issue.
"It kind of nagged me," he said. "It wasn't one of those things to keep me off the field, but I had to go a little under 100 percent. That's the way it always is though. I've worked through injuries my whole career since college -- elbows, hamstrings, all kinds of things.
"There's always something. Rarely does everything feel perfect, so you just have to grind it out. But I feel great now, so we'll just see how it goes."
Ryan, Sherrill close to throwing again
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The biggest health issues so far in Mariners camp have centered on the throwing arms of shortstop Brendan Ryan and left-handed reliever George Sherrill, both of whom are being brought along slowly.
Sherrill, 34, said he'll throw his first bullpen session on Tuesday after skipping the first week while the other 34 pitchers in camp threw three bullpens each and have now done a live batting practice session as well.
Sherrill, who signed a one-year free-agent deal, has been playing catch the last few days and said he's ready to take the next step.
"It feels pretty good so far," Sherrill said. "They just wanted to kind of force me to take a break and be able to get ready by the time we go to Japan. I just took a breather and let them do some work on it. It feels good."
Ryan, 29, went through shortstop drills again on Monday by fielding balls but not making the throw. He also stayed on the side when the rest of the position players warmed up with long toss. The veteran infielder said it's all a precaution as he comes back from a shoulder issue that sidelined him the final 11 games last season.
"He's going to start throwing here soon," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's on line with everything. We're just being real careful with him. He was a little banged up last year in different areas. We just want to make sure we're not pushing it. We need him to be ready for Opening Day."
Iwakuma adjusting to big league life
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hisashi Iwakuma threw his first live batting practice on Monday and among the first hitters he faced was Japanese countryman Ichiro Suzuki. Like most batters on these early days of live BP, Ichiro just looked at 10 pitches and didn't take a swing.
The two had never faced each other in Japan, as Iwakuma didn't make his Pacific League debut until 2001, the year Ichiro came to the United States. The moment was dutifully recorded by about 25 Japanese journalists, who are in camp reporting on Seattle's three players from their country.
"It wasn't hard to figure out what field he was on," manager Eric Wedge said with a laugh. "But with Iwakuma, this guy is going through a lot right now, experiencing a lot for the first time. I understand and respect that. He's on line, his arm is working well, he keeps the ball down. He's a veteran guy and knows what he needs to do to get ready and we're just giving him the space to do that."
Kyle Seager continues working mostly at third base, but did some drills at second as well on Monday, and will get time at both spots through camp, manager Eric Wedge said.
Wedge said no decision was forthcoming yet on who'll bat leadoff in the early going this spring. He indicated Sunday that word would come out once he talked to the players involved, but wasn't ready Monday to proceed any further.
"Nothing yet," he said. "We've got a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of things we're working through and we'll continue to do that."
Mike Carp has been taking all his reps in the outfield the first few days, but did get pulled in to first base Monday during pickoff and run-down sessions, working behind Justin Smoak in those situational drills.
Carlos Guillen, who'd worked at first base the first two days, spent most of his time at third on Monday.