There was very little fanfare about the Yankees' acquisition of Dustin Ackley from the Mariners before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, probably because it was all the club did after weeks of speculation about acquiring a frontline starter such as David Price. But getting Ackley may turn out to be a very big deal indeed.
Starting second baseman Stephen Drew is having bouts of dizziness, has no timetable for a return and might not be an option for the postseason roster. Meanwhile, Ackley is in the middle of a nice stretch of hitting -- he had a key solo homer in the sixth inning of Sunday's 6-1 win over the White Sox -- and now could be looking at a major role at second in the days to come.
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Asked about Drew's starting role, manager Joe Girardi replied: "It's hard to say because we haven't seen him play for the last 10 days because he hasn't felt good, so it's just something we're dealing with."
Drew said he has had dizziness and issues with balance for more than two weeks, the reason he hasn't started a game since Sept. 15 or played at all in the past five days. He said he suffered a severe infection in early September and that doctors explained that fluid buildup in his ears may have resulted in swelling in or around the vestibular nerve, which is essential to one's equilibrium.
He said that same nerve was affected when he was hit in the head with a 96-mph fastball in 2013. The symptoms dogged him for months.
"It throws off your balance. It makes you dizzy," Drew said. "It's definitely unique and not a good feeling to have."
Drew has taken batting practice and infield practice and has been a late entry in four games since his last start. In one, he played the field for only three batters. He called himself "available" but added: "It's just I have to concentrate on ground balls and hitting and everything because of the balance. And feeling the way I do, it's [normal] times 10."
The lefthanded-hitting Ackley and righthanded-hitting rookie Rob Refsnyder have filled in and have continued to earn their starts. Ackley has 10 hits in his last 28 at-bats and is hitting .324 with three homers, seven RBIs and a .703 slugging percentage in 16 games since coming off the disabled list with a back malady discovered right after his acquisition.
Refsnyder went 4-for-8 in three starts during the past week and is looking at several more this week with the Yankees facing three lefties in the next four games. He could be a postseason roster option.
"We're coming to the season's ending and it's very frustrating," Drew said. "But at the same time, I've got to get well. It's not fair to them, it's not fair to me, and hopefully this thing will pass sooner than later."