By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
HOUSTON — Normal players take time off during the major league all-star break.
The Seattle Mariners’ Raul Ibanez decided to take batting practice.
For the ever-prepared Ibanez, there was no other option but to stay active.
“When you get to 40, you have to work out,” Ibanez said. “I always joke with these guys and say, ‘Inactivity is the enemy of middle-aged players.’ I worked out a couple times, swam some, worked out some, took some swings off the tee a little. It wasn’t like every day, I just worked out Sunday after the game and Tuesday again and swam on Monday and played with the kids in the pool. Just stayed active.”
One thing that Ibanez didn’t do during his break was think about his future with the team. Ibanez has hit 24 home runs, driven in 56 runs and with the trade deadline approaching, could be looked at by teams around the league.
“It’s something I can’t control anyway,” Ibanez said. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know if you focus on what you can’t control, then what you can control kind of takes a back seat. I only focus on what I can control, and that’s my attitude and my preparation and my approach to the game, and how I can help my team win. But I don’t really think about it.”
Ibanez has yet to talk to general manager Jack Zduriencik about other teams asking about him.
“I have not,” he said. “I like being here. I like being a part of this team, and I’d like to win here.”
Ackley tackles Tal’s Hill
Dustin Ackley has yet to run up Tal’s Hill — the slope in center field of the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park — and he’s hoping he won’t have to.
The embankment, which is named after former team president Tal Smith, is 90 feet wide and leads up to the wall that is measured at 436 feet from home plate.
The old axiom in baseball for inexperienced players is “the baseball finds you,” but Ackley isn’t sure it will find him on the hill.
“It will find you if you haven’t been out there,” he said. “If somebody hits a ball out there, I’m sure it’s going to be a double or triple. I’m not going to be playing 400 feet back there. So if they hit it that far, they deserve a double or triple.”
Michael Morse is still back in Seattle nursing his strained quad. Manager Eric Wedge expects him to go out on a rehab assignment next week.
Reliever Stephen Pryor and Franklin Gutierrez are in the midst of their rehab assignments. They are with Class AAA Tacoma in Fresno. Pryor basically had to start his throwing program over with the long layoff.
“Well, it’s going to take him some time,” Wedge said.