With right-hander Samuel Deduno getting the start on the mound for the Astros on Friday night against the Mariners, Dustin Ackley was in the starting lineup for the second straight night.
HOUSTON — With right-hander Samuel Deduno getting the start on the mound for the Astros on Friday night against the Mariners, Dustin Ackley was in the starting lineup for the second straight night.
But how long will that continue if Ackley doesn’t start producing?
Going into the game, in which he went 0 for 2, Ackley was hitting .196 for the season with a .237 on-base percentage and a .375 slugging percentage. He’s struggled of late, hitting .122 (5 for 41) — all singles — over the past 15 games.
Manager Lloyd McClendon has said he’s not going to box himself into making the left-field and right-field positions into straight platoons. He started Rickie Weeks and Justin Ruggiano against a right-handed pitcher in Texas. He has said often he will play matchups and not be held to what arm the pitcher throws with.
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“The numbers will dictate that, too,” he said. “If I look at the numbers and they say Rickie Weeks is 8 for 12 with three homers off this right-hander, I’d be foolish not to play him. Vice versa if Ackley is 12 for 23 with five homers off a lefty, I’d be foolish not to play him.”
But it can’t just be about past numbers. It also has to be the more immediate numbers and player performance. At some point, how someone is playing this season and the past 10 to 12 games may trump the left-right matchup.
“I think you have to take that into account,” McClendon said. “You have to be fair to the entire ballclub. I love all my players, but I can’t manage one player at a time. I have to manage all 25. If a guy is at a point where he can’t help us, then I’ve got sit him down.”
McClendon said he isn’t at that point with Ackley yet.
The Mariners have options if Ackley’s playing time were reduced, particularly with Nelson Cruz playing as much right field as he has in the first month of the season.
• Tom Wilhelmsen (hyperextended elbow) threw a bullpen session Friday for the first time since going on the disabled list April 13. Wilhelmsen threw 25 pitches — fastballs and sinkers.
“I felt great,” he said.
• Hisashi Iwakuma (strained lat) continues to get treatment and rehab in Seattle. McClendon said Iwakuma is throwing long toss, which is a good sign.
“He’s doing good, but he’s still three to four weeks away,” McClendon said.
• Veteran outfielder/first baseman Carlos Quentin left Class AAA Tacoma after being with the team for just six days and has announced his retirement. Quentin signed a minor-league contract in hopes of getting back into the big leagues.
• Left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders exercised his May 1 opt-out clause in his contract and also left the Rainiers. Saunders had made six appearances and was 0-3 with a 5.73 earned-run average.