Ackley brings razor, utility to Yankees
Infielder/outfielder offers flexibility to lineup
CHICAGO -- Returning to a clean-shaven look for the first time in two years, Dustin Ackley admitted that he needed a nudge toward the bathroom mirror for his transformation into a Yankee, but the infielder/outfielder is excited to see what comes next.
Ackley suited up with his new club on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, having been acquired from the Mariners in exchange for outfielder Ramon Flores and right-hander Jose Ramirez. The first order of business was shedding his substantial beard, which he started growing in 2013.
"I couldn't take the first swipe; I had to let somebody else do it," Ackley said before going 0-for-2 in the Yankees' 13-6 victory. "It took about 15-20 minutes, and now I'm here. Luckily, I'm not cut and bleeding all over the place. That was the thing I was worried about, but no harm done. I don't have to use much beard product anymore, so that may save me some money in the long run."
The Yankees see value in Ackley as well, viewing the 27-year-old as a versatile piece at all three outfield positions, first base and second base, while possibly taking advantage of the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium with some home run power.
"His role is anywhere in the outfield, first," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We want him to take some grounders at second in case of an emergency. He gives you flexibility in that sense."
Girardi said that Ackley might see his name in the starting lineup on Sunday.
"This team hasn't really needed much help lately, but I'm going to try to do my best to come and play hard every day, fill in where I can and do my part," Ackley said.
In a corresponding move, the Yankees designated first baseman-outfielder Garrett Jones for assignment. Jones, 34, batted .215 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 57 games for New York. Cashman noted that Jones was a free agent after the season, while Ackley is potentially under team control through 2017.
"I think it just gives Joe Girardi more flexibility from the bench, especially from the defensive side, with, at the very least, similar offensive production right now -- with some upside as well as control years going forward if we so choose," Cashman said.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Ackley batted .215 with six homers over 85 games for Seattle this season. Ackley split time between second base and the outfield in '13, and has spent the majority of his time as an outfielder over the past two years.
Ackley said that as he left his Mariners teammates behind Robinson Cano offered him a few words of advice on how to embrace New York.
"He just said, 'Have fun,'" Ackley said. "I know that he had a lot of fun here. He's expressed that. He just said to enjoy it. These guys are in first and he's got a lot of friends on this team. He just said I'm going to have fun and enjoy it."