In a potentially significant move, Dustin Ackley started in left field for Tacoma on Wednesday and will continue to work in the outfield.
Ackley played outfield early in his career at the University of North Carolina before moving to first base because of an arm injury. The Mariners switched Ackley to second base after picking him No. 2 overall in 2009, but the emergence at second base of another first-rounder from that draft, Nick Franklin, has created a logjam at the position.
“I think it’s good for Dustin,” Zduriencik said. “We’ve always talked about that. You never know what will happen. Versatility is a good thing. We spoke to him (Tuesday), asked him to take balls in the outfield, and he’s wide open to it.”
Asked if Ackley will continue starting games in the outfield with Tacoma, Zduriencik said, “We’ll see him play the outfield. Just see how it goes. We know what he’s done at second base; we’ll let him get his feet wet in the outfield.”
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Ackley has revitalized his offense since his demotion to Tacoma, hitting .429 in 13 games before Wednesday. Establishing himself in the outfield could be a ticket back to Seattle. The Mariners sent minor-league outfield coordinator Brant Brown to work with Ackley.
“As you look at all the different scenarios, you don’t know how it’s going to play out,’’ Zduriencik said. “But I think as long as guys have experience playing other positions, it can benefit the player, it can benefit the organization, and that’s the purpose of it.”
Zduriencik said he doesn’t know if Ackley fits best in center or left. “We’ll see how it plays out going forward.”
• The Mariners announced the signing of 13 players from last week’s draft, including first-rounder DJ Peterson. Peterson received a bonus of $2,759,100, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. That is exactly the slot figure mandated by baseball for the No. 12 pick. Peterson, a third baseman who will report to the Everett AquaSox of the Northwest League, took batting practice before Wednesday’s game using Franklin’s bat and batting gloves borrowed from Kyle Seager.
“This is what you dream of as a little kid, hitting BP on the big field,” he said. “I’ve got some work to do to get up here and be with these guys on an every-day basis. But right now I’m just embracing this. This is awesome. My family is loving it. So it was fun, a lot of fun.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.”
It wasn’t lost on Peterson that Mike Zunino, last year’s No. 1 pick, is now in the big leagues. “Unbelievable. He’s worked his butt off to get here and I respect that,’’ Peterson said. “I congratulated him. Good for him. I hope to do the same, but if not, hopefully soon. Sooner than later.”
• Also signing were OF Tyler O’Neill (third round), IF Jack Reinheimer (fifth), OF Corey Simpson (sixth), LHP Tyler Olson (seventh), LHP Jacob Zokan (ninth), RHP Emilio Pagan (10th), IF Justin Seager (12th), IF Jeff Zimmerman (19th), RHP Kevin McCoy (24th), RHP Ricky Claudio (27th), OF Chantz Mack (29th) and RHP Rafael Pineda (30th).
• Franklin Gutierrez began his second rehab stint with Tacoma on Wednesday, and it looks like Justin Smoak will join him Thursday.