The clock ran out Thursday in Seattle on outfielder Dustin Ackley, once regarded as a cornerstone in the Mariners’ rebuilding effort.
The Mariners traded Ackley, the No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft, to the New York Yankees for two minor-league players: outfielder Ramon Flores and right-handed pitcher Jose Ramirez.
“It’s crazy,” Ackley said. “I guess you don’t have a clue of what’s going on until stuff happens. It’s kind of a big surprise, but you see this all the time with guys. I’m excited for what the future has to hold.
“It’s going to be fun.”
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Ackley’s role shifted this season to platoon duty, and he is batting just .215 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 85 games. He has a .243/.306/.366 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) over five seasons.
“I have nothing but good memories here,” Ackley said. “I’ve had some struggles and I’ve had some good times. Ultimately, when I look back on it, it’s going to be all positive.”
The Mariners’ tentative plan is for Flores and Ramirez to report to Triple-A Tacoma and for first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Montero to be recalled from the Rainiers to replace Ackley, 27, on the 25-man roster.
Officially, a corresponding move to replace Ackley will be announced prior to Friday’s game against the Twins. The Mariners will play Thursday with just 24 players on their active roster.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said further moves are possible prior to the non-waiver trade deadline at 1 p.m. (PDT) Friday.
“We have a lot of discussions going on,” he said. “There’s always a lot of dialogue with everyone at this time. You never know where any (of those discussions) are going to go.
“There are clubs out there that have interest in some of our players, but that doesn’t mean anything is absolutely going to happen.”
Flores, 23, made his big-league debut earlier this season — and batted .219 in 12 games — but spent most of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he is batting .286 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 73 games.
A Venezuelan native, Flores has a .272 career average in seven pro seasons. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ No. 27 prospect prior to the season.
Ramirez, 25, has also spent most of the season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he is 3-0 with 10 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 32 games. He is averaging 10.15 strikeouts per nine innings.
He made 11 big-league appearances over the last two years. A Dominican native, he is 32-32 with a 3.60 ERA in 146 minor-league games, including 96 starts, over eight pro seasons.
“These are pieces,” Zduriencik said, “that could very well help your club either immediately or in the near future. As we all know, Dustin was relegated to a platoon situation or a backup role.”
Ackley is moving up in the standings. The Mariners, prior to Thursday, were 10 games under .500, while the Yankees were leading the AL East by six games.
“They’ve been playing really well,” he said. “We see them on TV all the time. What they’ve been doing is pretty special. To be part of that will be something pretty cool.”
One difference though: The Yankees have a no-facial hair policy.
“I think that’s written in stone,” he said. “I think you’ll see me in a little bit, and I’ll be a different-looking guy.”
The Mariners, effectively, played Thursday with just 22 players because second baseman Robinson Cano and first baseman Logan Morrison remain sidelined by what are believed to be minor ailments.
Cano suffered a strained abdominal muscle Tuesday while diving for a ball. He did little but rest Wednesday and Thursday but is expected to test his recovery Friday by taking batting practice.
“It was on a play where I dove to my left,” he said. “I went home and, at 4 or 5 in the morning, I felt tight. I wasn’t that concerned. But then when I tried to run (later Wednesday), I could feel it.”
Morrison is battling a bruised left thumb that forced him to leave Wednesday’s 8-2 loss to Arizona. He is also expected to be available at some point in the weekend series against the Twins.
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush took another step toward returning to active duty by throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session. He has been out since July 7 because of biceps tendinitis.
“It was definitely another step in the right direction,” he said. “I threw a ton of strikes today. That was encouraging. Put on velo on there toward the end.”
Tentative plans call for Furbush to throw another bullpen session prior to Sunday’s series finale. Barring setbacks, he could then be ready to head to the minors for what projects as a brief rehab assignment.
The Mariners entered Thursday’s series opener with a 25-26 road record, which is notably better than their 22-31 record at Safeco Field.
They have a better batting average at home (.250 vs. .227 on the road), and a lower ERA at home (3.67 vs. 4.27 on the road).
Many things about this club don’t make sense.
Single-A Bakersfield outfielder Tyler O’Neill has been on a tear since returning from duty with Canada in the Pan American Games.
O’Neill, 20, was 12 for 22 with four doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs in six games before an 0 for 4 effort in Wednesday’s 10-3 loss to High Desert (Rangers).
The recent surge boosted O’Neill’s season totals to 21 homers and 57 RBIs in 72 games. He also has a .259/.298/.539 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).
The Mariners selected O’Neill in the third round of the 2013 draft.
▪ First baseman/DH Jesus Montero is 17 for 36 with seven extra-base hits and eight RBIs in nine games since his return to Triple-A Tacoma after a 10-day stay in the big leagues.
It was 17 years ago Friday — July 31, 1998 — that the Mariners traded future Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson to Houston for infielder Carlos Guillen, pitcher Freddy Garcia and a player to be named later.
The deal was completed on Oct. 1, 1998 when the Mariners received pitcher John Halama.
Johnson was 130-74 with a 3.42 ERA in 274 games over 10 seasons with the Mariners. He pitched more games, had more victories (and more losses), more strikeouts and more shutouts with the Mariners than any other club.
Nelson Cruz’s 26 homers are already the second-highest total by a Mariners player in the last six seasons. Raul Ibanez had 29 in 2013. The last Mariner to reach 30 was Russell Branyan, with 31, in 2009. ... Only four Mariners have hit more than 26 homers prior to Aug. 1. Ken Griffey Jr. did it six times. Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Bret Boone each did it once. ... Seth Smith entered the series with a 1.099 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in his career against the Twins. That’s the fifth-highest career total for any opponent since the Twins arrived in 1961 from Washington.
The Mariners and Twins continue their four-game series at 5:10 p.m. (PDT) Friday at Target Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.03) will face Minnesota lefty Tommy Milone (5-2, 3.58).
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.
FRIDAY: Seattle (RHP Taijuan Walker: 7-7, 5.03 ERA) at Minnesota (LHP Tommy Milone: 5-2, 3.58), 5:10 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM
TO NEW YORK …
Positions: OF, 2B.
Bats: L. Throws: R.
Ht./Wt.: 6-1, 205.
Key numbers: Hit .215 with 6 HR, 19 RBIs in 85 games for Seattle this season. Career batting average is .243 — it’s .296 at Yankee Stadium.
TO SEATTLE …
Bats: L. Throws: L.
Ht./Wt.: 5-10, 190.
Key numbers: Hit .219 in 12 games for the Yankees this season. Was hitting .286 with 7 HR,
34 RBIs in 73 games in Triple-A.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 190.
Key numbers: In 11 major league games in 2014-15, went 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings. Was 3-0 with 10 saves, 2.90 ERA in Triple-A.