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Spring Stats: 13-for-28 (.464), 7 XBH (1 HR), 9 RBI, 7 R
After playing his way out of the major leagues and back to Triple-A last season, Dustin Ackley got some good advice from then-Seattle Mariners DH/OF Raul Ibanez. Ibanez's advice for his young teammate was simple: Read a book.
After picking up a copy of Harvey Dorfman's The Mental Side of Baseball, Ackley felt like a different person, as he explained to The Seattle Times' Larry Stone earlier this spring: “It was like the book was reading to me the whole time."
What the book told him was to stop thinking, to simplify things and just get back to playing baseball, something that Ackley believes is the key to him finding success from this point forward:
I’ve told people, I don’t care how good your swing is, if you’re thinking about stuff, and if your mind’s not 100 percent all in to what you’re doing, you’re not going to be successful.
That’s pretty much a good example of me last year. My swing, it might have been a good swing, but my mind wasn’t right, and that’s really what screwed me up.
Ackley saw results upon making his return to Seattle, hitting .304 with an .809 OPS after the All-Star break, and after making some adjustments to his swing this winter, the 26-year-old has continued to see his numbers—and his confidence—move in the right direction.
"I'm letting the ball get deep, I'm hitting the pitches where they need to be hit," he told MLB.com's Greg Johns. "That's as good a sign as I need right now. I didn't expect to be this far along, but I'm excited about it and am just going to try to keep it going."
His head is right, his swing is right and, unlike last season, when he bounced around the diamond, Ackley knows where he'll be playing everyday—in left field.
All those things have contributed to Ackley putting together a torrid spring—and they'll work together to finally elevate his play to the level the Mariners expected from the first player taken after Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft.