PEORIA, Ariz. — These days, it isn’t just during the Seattle Mariners’ workouts that Dustin Ackley finds himself in left field. Grasping for details and updates on his new son amounts to virtual round-the-clock isolation.
“I’m always waiting for pictures or video and phone calls,” he said. “Not being there and not knowing what’s going on … if I call and miss them, it’s like, ‘Is something going on? What’s happening right now?’
“Anytime, I’m not hearing stuff … you always expect the worst.”
Actually, everything is going fine after a harrowing ordeal.
Ackley and his wife, Justine, were en route to Peoria (with two dogs) from their home in Michigan when, roughly midway through the trip, the couple’s first child decided to arrive some six weeks ahead of schedule.
That resulted in an emergency stop in Oklahoma City for the birth of Parson Bennett Ackley, who checked in healthy at 5 pounds, 12 ounces but in need of extra care.
“It was kind of a scare at first,” Ackley said, “because he needed to be on oxygen. His respiratory system is not (yet fully functional). He needed some oxygen.”
Conditions soon stabilized and, once Justine’s mother arrived, Ackley continued to spring training. Justine and Parson, if all goes well, could arrive, with the two dogs, by the end of the week.
“He’s finally off (oxygen) as of three days ago,” Ackley said. “He’s out of the incubator. Everything is looking good. So, hopefully … we heard the timetable is possibly Monday that he will be released from the hospital.”
Meanwhile, the wait continues.
“It’s crazy,” Ackley said. “It hasn’t really set in yet. I think when they get here, it’s going to be like, ‘OK, this is what it’s like to be a father.’ But right now, it’s like I’m a solo rider.
“I just go to spring training, work out, come back and there’s no one there. When the wife and kid and dogs get out, it’ll really start to set in.”