Franklin could move to shortstop
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The impending arrival of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano creates an obvious question regarding the future of Nick Franklin, who played 102 games at that position last year as a rookie for the Mariners.
Franklin was drafted in 2009 as a shortstop and played that position in his first few seasons in the Minors before transitioning to second base full time just in the last year. And Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said Tuesday he'll likely be given a chance to compete with fellow rookie Brad Miller for that job next spring, barring any trades in the interim.
"We could let him and Miller fight it out at Spring Training to see who comes away," Zduriencik said. "These young players have [Minor League] options. They don't necessarily have to be on your club. Or it may be looking at an alternative position for him.
"I think he could play second, short or third. There was a point in Nick's past when he played in the outfield. Whether that's an option or not yet is too early to say. Right now we're viewing him as an infielder."
With veteran Willie Bloomquist signed as a utility man who can play all the infield positions, whoever doesn't win the starting shortstop job between Miller and Franklin would likely start the year in Triple-A Tacoma.
Presumably more assured of a job is former second baseman Dustin Ackley, who transitioned to the outfield last year and joins Michael Saunders and September callup Abraham Almonte as the only returning outfielders on the roster.
Zduriencik said Ackley can be viewed now as a full-time outfielder, though he "still has some things to prove" after a horrible start to his 2013 season led to a .253 batting average.
"He played a nice outfield for us," Zduriencik said. "The guy can run. He doesn't have a great throwing arm. But if this guy becomes the hitter we think he will be when we drafted him, then we'll all be happy with that."