Bigger Ackley looking to turn on power

Bigger Ackley looking to turn on power

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dustin Ackley isn't sure where he'll hit in the Mariners' lineup this year, but the young second baseman has added about 10 pounds since last season and could provide some increased pop wherever manager Eric Wedge pencils him in.

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."