Ackley happily breaking in his hitting shoes

Ackley happily breaking in his hitting shoes

Ackley happily breaking in his hitting shoes

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariners center fielder Dustin Ackley seems to have turned a corner in recent days. Entering Wednesday, the former No. 2 overall Draft pick has hit .328 since the All-Star break as he's begun to salvage a tough season.

Ackley, 25, went 3-for-4 and hit the go-ahead RBI triple in Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Rays. Ackley was hitting .205 when he was sent down to Triple-A in late May and saw that average dip to .194 on July 5 even after his recall.

He's hit .313 (26-for-83) since then, however, to raise his average to .233 and hike his confidence as well.

"It's just feeling great in batting practice," Ackley said. "There were a couple starts I had against lefties where I was able to see the ball pretty good and put some pretty good swings, and that kind of confidence rolls over. Then, I got some starts against righties and things started feeling great there, too. I think it's just a matter of feeling good in the cage and BP, and then when you get up there, just see the ball and hit it and that's it."

Even a double-play ball in his first at-bat on Tuesday didn't dim his confidence as he knew he'd stung the ball hard, but just right at first baseman James Loney.

"That could have been a situation where I'd get down on myself for whatever reason, but I took a positive out of that," Ackley said. "I barreled it and I took that into my next three at-bats and it paid off."

Acting manager Robby Thompson wants to see more of Ackley in center field in the closing weeks of the season, but is equally pleased with his rising plate production.

"He's being a little more aggressive early in the count," Thompson said. "He's fouling off some pitches and not leaving that third strike up to the umpire like he did earlier and even last year. It looks like he's turned a corner, he's gaining some confidence and he's swinging the bat real well right now."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.