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McClendon plans to go with Ackley in left field

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lloyd McClendon doesn't mince words once he has his mind set on something.

So while the new skipper is just getting to know his new personnel with the Mariners, he's not shy to share his thoughts once he's ready. When asked Friday whether Dustin Ackley was in the hunt for the center field job, McClendon replied:

"I doubt it. He'll probably be in left field the majority of time."

Why is he best suited for left field?

"Because that's where I want him," said McClendon.

The decision most likely has to do with Ackley's throwing arm, which isn't his strong suit. He did start 46 games in center last year after transitioning from second base at midseason. The feeling then was to put Ackley where he was most comfortable.

But with time now in Spring Training to work more on the outfield, his immediate future appears to be in left, where he started eight games in 2013.

McClendon likes Corey Hart in right field, assuming he can stay healthy coming off his pair of microfracture knee surgeries. He indicated Logan Morrison would get some work in left and right field later in camp, though he's currently spending time only at first base coming off some knee issues of his own.

As for center? The skipper noted that Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte and Stefen Romero are capable of playing all three outfield positions, as can veterans Willie Bloomquist and Endy Chavez. Saunders and Almonte are the leading contenders there, though McClendon didn't list any pecking order.

He did mention young Xavier Avery, acquired last August from the Orioles in the Michael Morse trade, as another contender along with Romero, who offers a needed right-handed bat. Hart and Bloomquist are the only other right-handed hitters in that group, while Almonte is a switch-hitter.

When the team lined up for popup drills Friday, the outfield on the main field consisted of Ackley and Avery in left, Saunders and Almonte in center and Hart in right.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Dustin Ackley