Seattle Mariners

Mariners notebook: Ackley is surging … right on schedule

SEATTLE — Check the calendar. July? Then Seattle Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley must be heating up.

Yep, on cue, Ackley is showing signs of repeating his career-long pattern of surging in the season’s second half. He entered Saturday with 12 hits in 30 at-bats since June 21.

His average jumped from .184 to .222 in that span.

“It’s just one of those things,” Ackley said. “It’s weird. I can’t really explain it. I wish I could explain it. It seems like every year’s been different, though, as far as how things have happened.”

The issue this year, Ackley said, was adjusting to his role as a part-time player for the first time in his career.

“That was definitely a tough thing,” he admitted. “You come to the park, and you’re feeling good, and you’re not in there. I think that can wear on you if you let it. I think I kind of let that get the best of me early on.

“As soon as I started to realize, ‘You know what? I can only control what I can control,’ I started coming in here and just gave the best at-bats I can. That’s when it started to roll for me.”

Ackley began his turnaround in June after batting .177 over his first 43 games. He has 18 hits in 58 at-bats since May 30, which translates to a .310 average.

This is nothing new.

A year ago, Ackley batted .214 through June and .274 thereafter. In 2013, he was at .194 through July 5, and .301 thereafter.

For his career, Ackley has a .229/.294/.337 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) before the All-Star break. Thereafter, it jumps to .259/.321/.400.

“I’ve told you,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, “he’s a second-half player. He’s starting to come on. Nothing looks different other than the results. He’s a little bit more aggressive.

“It leaves you scratching your head sometimes. Right now, he’s swinging the bat pretty well.”

Ackley didn’t start Saturday against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson and might not start Sunday when the Mariners face another lefty in Andrew Heaney. Earlier in the year, Ackley contends, that could send him into a funk.

“All you can do is sit there and think and think and think,” he said. “I think I started thinking about things that I shouldn’t have. It probably took my mind away from things I should have been thinking about.

“You need to take all of that clutter out of your mind. I’m sure that’s the way it is with everybody. You can’t have more than one thought up there: Just seeing it and hitting it.

“If you have more than one thought, you’re kind of in a world of hurt.”

ALL-STAR FUTURES

Shortstop Ketel Marte and right-hander Edwin Diaz will play for the World team at noon Sunday in the All-Star Futures Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Marte, 21, was 5 for 10 in three games at Rookie Peoria and Double-A Jackson after returning from a broken left thumb suffered May 31 while playing for Triple-A Tacoma. He batted .343 for the Rainiers in 51 games.

Diaz, 21, is a combined 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA in 17 starts at Hi-A Bakersfield and Jackson.

Marte and Diaz were ranked No. 3 and No. 6 before the season in the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects. Diaz was the highest-ranked pitcher on the list.

The Futures Game can be seen on MLB Network and MLB.com.

STAYING POSITIVE

Struggling reliever Danny Farquhar is trying to remain upbeat after two rocky appearances against the Angels following his recall Thursday from Tacoma.

“I guess things haven’t gone the way I wanted,” he said. “But I’m looking at the positives and trying to work my way through it. We’ve still got what — two-and-a-half months left?

“So I’ve got a lot to work on and to build off of.”

Farquhar couldn’t close out a six-run lead Thursday in the ninth inning of a 7-2 victory, and he gave up two homers in two innings Friday after replacing Mike Montgomery in a 7-3 loss.

“He elevated some pitches in the middle of the plate,” McClendon said. “Just not quality pitches. To good hitters, you can’t pitch in the middle of the plate.”

Farquhar was a reliable bullpen option last year in compiling a 2.66 ERA in 66 appearances. But he got demoted this year in late May to Tacoma after posting a 6.46 ERA in his first 20 games.

In two recall appearances since that demotion, he allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. His overall ERA now stands at 6.59.

WANG SIGNED

Veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will try to rebuild his career at Tacoma after agreeing to terms with the Mariners on a minor-league deal.

Wang, 35, won 19 games for the New York Yankees in both 2006 and 2007 before suffering a series of injuries. He is 62-34 with a 4.37 ERA in eight seasons, but has made only 27 big-league appearance in the last six years.

Wang began this season at Triple-A Gwinnett in the Atlanta system, but was released June 19 after going 2-6 with a 6.10 ERA in 11 games. He then signed with an independent-league club and won three starts.

Plans call for Wang (pronounced Wong) to join the Rainiers’ bullpen this weekend before shifting to the rotation after the Triple-A All-Star break.

LOOKING BACK

It was two years ago Sunday — July 12, 2013 — that Raul Ibanez hit a pair of homers in an 8-3 victory over the Angels at Safeco Field.

They were his 23rd and 24 homers of the season, and Ibanez became the oldest player in franchise history, at 41 years, 40 days, to have a multi-homer game.

Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales also hit homers in the victory.

SHORT HOPS

Evelyn Jones of Woodinville marked her 108th birthday by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Mariners game. She is the oldest person in major-league history to perform the duty. … Center fielder Austin Jackson returned to the lineup after missing two-plus games because of back spasms. … By going on the disabled list last week, lefty Charlie Furbush missed a chance to set a franchise record for the lowest opposing batting average (minimum 20 appearances) at the All-Star break. Opponents are batting .122 (9 for 74). The record is held by Jeff Nelson at .120 (15 for 125) in 2001. Had Furbush retired two more batters, his mark would have dropped to .118. …Veteran outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, entering Saturday, had seven hits in 16 at-bats over his last six games. … Tacoma outfielder Pat Kivlehan went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as the U.S. team opened play in the Pan-American Games with a 10-9 loss to Puerto Rico in Toronto.

ON TAP

The Mariners conclude their prebreak schedule by wrapping up a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker (7-6, 4.53) will face Angels lefty Andrew Heaney (2-0, 1.77). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM.

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