DETROIT -- With Ichiro Suzuki moving out of the leadoff spot this year, the Mariners had a hole to fill at the top of their lineup. Chone Figgins was chosen to fill that void, however, through 19 games, he's struggled with a .236 batting average and .309 on-base percentage.
Enter Dustin Ackley, who said after Wednesday's 9-1 win against the Tigers, the first game in which he hit in the leadoff spot this season, that he's spent most of his professional career hitting first.
"In the Minor Leagues, I probably led off 85 percent of the time," said Ackley, who went 3-for-6 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. "I was able to take the approach I've always had. Don't try to do anything different and I think that's been important for me. No matter what spot I'm hitting in, don't try to change what you do best."
To be fair, he had only one at-bat leading off -- his first of the game. However, when leading off any inning this season, Ackley has posted a .267 average and .313 on-base percentage. Figgins owns a .185 average and .290 on-base percentage in that situation.
Last season, Ackley had a .387 on-base percentage when leading off an inning, compared to a .218 percentage for Figgins. A large part of the Mariners' success Wednesday came as a result of getting the leadoff runner on base. They did so in the first four innings, in which they scored six runs, and six out of nine innings.
Manager Eric Wedge, who had Figgins back in the leadoff spot Thursday, said he likes Ackley hitting first "a lot" but still wants to give the veteran a chance to correct his early issues.
"We're still giving Figgins the opportunity, but he has to do it," Wedge said. "It's as simple as that. If he does, he'll keep being in there. If not, we'll make a change. I don't know where the strikeouts are coming from. I didn't see that one coming."
Figgins broke out in Thursday's 5-4 win, going 3-for-4 with an RBI double, a run scored, a stolen base and no strikeouts.