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Acta acting skipper, with Ichiro his bench coach

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

DETROIT -- Manny Acta has managed 890 games in the Majors over six seasons as the skipper for the Indians and Nationals. But as he prepared to fill in for the first time as the Mariners' manager in place of Scott Servais, one thing was very different.

Acta's bench coach during Seattle's two-game stint while Servais is attending his daughter's college graduation ceremony in Mississippi will be one Ichiro Suzuki, whose new role as an advisor takes a temporary twist.

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DETROIT -- Manny Acta has managed 890 games in the Majors over six seasons as the skipper for the Indians and Nationals. But as he prepared to fill in for the first time as the Mariners' manager in place of Scott Servais, one thing was very different.

Acta's bench coach during Seattle's two-game stint while Servais is attending his daughter's college graduation ceremony in Mississippi will be one Ichiro Suzuki, whose new role as an advisor takes a temporary twist.

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Acta's debut was originally scheduled for Friday night against the Tigers, but inclement weather in Detroit caused the series opener to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a straight doubleheader Saturday, with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PT, and the nightcap slated to begin 30 minutes after the completion of Game 1.

When Seattle's coaching staff is at full strength, Ichiro isn't allowed on the bench due to MLB regulations limiting the specific number of coaches, trainers and non-uniformed personnel. But with Servais' brief departure, Ichiro will take Acta's spot as bench coach, which means sitting at Acta's side, offering advice and bouncing ideas about in-game strategy.

Just don't excpect Acta to get ejected so Ichiro can step in as manager.

"That's not my strength, being thrown out of games and stuff like that," Acta said. "No, I'm honored. To have a guy like Ichiro be my bench coach is a luxury. It's another little history I can tell my grandkids down the road.

"This week, I've seen a few good things to add to those stories. The 3,000th hit of Albert [Pujols], James Paxton's no-hitter and then having Ichiro as my bench coach. He's moving fast in the game, huh?"

While Ichiro still uses an interpreter to speak with the media, Acta -- who grew up in the Dominican Republic and learned English as a youngster playing in the Astros' organization -- said language won't be an issue.

"No problem whatsoever," said the 49-year-old, who worked as Seattle's third-base coach in 2016-17 before moving to bench coach this season. "I communicate with him all the time. There's not going to be an issue. During the game, he's going to be watching the game and managing his own game, just like I do.

"And if anything pops up, any idea, I'll ask him and go from there. And probably at the end of the day," Acta said with a smile, "I'll go with my idea."

Acta had no problem revealing his sense of humor in his first pregame meeting with the media. He's comfortable in the managerial shoes, having guided the Nationals from 2007-09 and Indians in 2010-12 before working as an analyst for ESPN and ESPN Deportes from 2013-15.

Acta doesn't hide the fact he'd love to manage again, though he knows his win-loss record of 372-518 while overseeing two rebuilding franchises will require a team to understand his previous situations.

"I'm in no type of rush and don't have any type of agenda," he said. "But it is my goal. That's what I like to do. I had an interview with the Mets [last winter] that I thought went well. Somebody, probably at some point, will take a chance. My only fear is the same industry that put me in that spot of doing two rebuilding jobs will judge me over wins and losses, which is part of the game. But yeah, eventually I'd like to get back at it."

Acta said working with Servais the past two-plus seasons has opened his eyes to new ways of thinking and dealing with players.

"I have learned so much here, especially under Scotty," he said. "My teachers were Frank Robinson and Willie Randolph. Those were the guys I worked for before and they were kind of old-school type of guys. Whenever I go back, I'll do so many things differently than I have in the past.

"I think the game has changed drastically and we all as human beings have changed drastically. The 24/7 news, social media and all that, whether you want it or not, has made us change. The way you treat people, the way players expect to be treated and the communication that exists today is really different. So you really have to adjust and adapt or disappear."

Worth noting
Dan Altavilla threw a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts in his first rehab outing with Double-A Arkansas on Thursday, but will likely need another appearance with the Travelers. Altavilla went on the 10-day disabled list on May 1 and Acta said he could rejoin the team when it returns to Seattle on Tuesday.

• After sitting out Thursday's 9-3 win in Toronto to rest a bruised right big toe, Dee Gordon was back in the lineup Saturday and said the foot isn't an issue.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB

Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki