The late season acquisitions sometimes don’t transpire to be what a baseball GM envisions when making the move to improve, and then there is Dustin Ackley of the New York Yankees. The infielder was a late season and surprising addition that GM Brian Cashman acquired,and once again Sunday afternoon the infielder contributed to the Yankees 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox in the Bronx.
With the Yankees moving closer to clinching the top American League wild card, and with the way Ackley has been producing, there is the strong possibility that manager Joe Girardi will have no choice: Ackley may have to be a part of the postseason roster.
It will be a one-game elimination at Yankee Stadium next Tuesday night. And with that in mind, Girardi has to assemble the best 25 man roster that can give the Yankees a chance to advance to the American League Divisional Series. After a home run in the sixth inning that put the Yankees ahead 2-0, Girardi hinted that Ackley is in the mix.
“He’s worked really hard and put himself right into the mix,” Girardi said. And in these final seven games against the Red Sox and Orioles, Ackley could see more playing time at second base as Girardi continues to audition his new addition. It’s a simple equation this late in the game, because Ackley has been productive with 11 hits in his last 28 at bats.
That also means Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan will have to audition this late in the game. Though it was revealed that Drew and his .201 average, and a tendency to make the error may be forced to sit because of recurring dizzy spells and it could be another concussion he sustained.
In a game against the Orioles on September 9th, Drew fielded a ball that took a hop off his glove that hit him in the face and that may make the decision easier to eliminate Drew from the mix. Brendan Ryan is another potential second baseman that could be a part of that postseason roster plan, and depending on how Girardi goes with who can hit the lefthander or righthander, the next few games could determine who has the best chance of getting the Yankees to play more after next Tuesday,
“I haven’t thought about, it,” Ackley said about being included in the postseason plan. “I am just focusing on each and every bat to help this team win, I don’t make those decisions of when I play or don’t play. I’m at the point whatever happens, happens.”
Ackley was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on July 30th for righty pitcher Jose Ramirez and outfielder Ramon Flores. With the Mariners, he hit .215 with six home runs, eight doubles, and drive in 19 runs in a span of 85 games. He also had some stints on the disabled list with a right lumbar strain of the back and missed some time when he was acquired by the Yankees.
And as every Yankees fan knows, and this is from previous Septembers, Brian Cashman has always been able to acquire the proper player to give the unexpected. Last September it was Martin Prado with his late inning timely hits though the Yankees fell short of making it to October.
Now it seems to be the September for Ackley. Girardi almost hinted that there will be more playing time for the first round draft pick of the Mariners in 2009. Last Sunday night at Citi Field he hit a home run against the Mets when Matt Harvey was lifted from the game and that helped propel the Yankees to taking two of three in that series.
Girardi has another significant issue to deal with this week,and that is trying to determine when and if Masahiro Tanaka can get another start or two before the season finale next Sunday. If Tanaka and his hamstring coperate, he most likely becomes the starting pitcher in that wildcard Tuesday game.
Ackley, with that home run helped 21-year old righthander Luis Severino get the win. And with the Yankees offense struggling to score runs at the wrong time of year, the six shutout innings from Severino, and that home run may have made some decisions easier for Girardi as to that one game next week,
“He’s playing because of the way he’s playing,” Girardi said when asked if Ackley will be in the lineup when the Yankees open a four-game series with the Red Sox Monday night. “I think he’s healthy and has made some minor adjustments,”
Ackley said he learned a lot with his playing time in Seattle and admitted, “I learned a lot
here as well. I didn’t come over here and expect to be handed at bats or anything like that. I think I definitely earned them as far as getting pinch hits and making some spot starts for some guys who needed days off.”
“Just going to keep getting ready every day and hope for more at bats,” he said. And if Ackley is ready and comes up big a few more times this week, the decision becomes that much easier for Girardi to add a name to that roster for next Tuesday.