SEATTLE -- The Mariners middle infield duo of second baseman Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brendan Ryan mirrored each other for much of the 2012 season, providing consistently outstanding defense while struggling to live up to expectations at the plate.
And Thursday, they started their offseasons in similar fashion, both undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs that nagged them much of the year.
Ryan had a bone spur removed from his right elbow, an issue that plagued him from the start of Spring Training, when he wasn't allowed to throw the ball for the first several weeks of camp and then had to undergo treatment all season.
"I've just learned to tolerate it," Ryan said Wednesday. "Some days were bad and some not so bad. The training room is not the place you want to be, but they certainly took care of us."
Ackley had a bone spur removed from his left ankle, which is his plant leg at the plate as a left-handed hitter.
Both procedures were performed by Mariners medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan in Seattle.
Ryan had an outstanding year defensively, despite the elbow issue, though he hit a career-low .194 in 141 games. Like Ackley, he declined to use the health issue as an excuse for his offensive struggles, but did say the recovery time from surgery will be used to give himself a fresh start.
"One thing I'm not going to be able to do is pick up a bat for a while," Ryan said. "So it'll be an opportunity for some of the things I've been trying to do, some of the muscle memory to just fade away and get as raw as I can get and start from the basics."
Ackley hit just .226 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 607 at-bats in his first full season, after batting .273 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 333 at-bats as a rookie in 2011. He said there were still positives to take from the year, which he looked upon as a big learning experience.
"You have to get used to just the everyday grind of Major League Baseball," Ackley said. "This was my first full season, so I think I learned how to cope with a lot of things, the ups and downs, nagging injuries here and there.
"I think I'll be able to take that into next year and be proud of what happened this year and not look bad upon it. I think everybody can take the same thing from this year."
Manager Eric Wedge expects both players to anchor his middle infield next year and to take strong steps forward offensively.
"I think Ryan is going to hit better," Wedge said. "He's a much better offensive player than .195. If there's ever a player that gets in his own way offensively, Brendan Ryan is it. We're going to try to help him get the hell out of his own way next year. I think he's the best defensive shortstop in the game, a game-changer."
As for his young second baseman? Wedge hinted that the ankle situation was an issue.
"Dustin Ackley is going to be a helluva baseball player, but right now he's in the middle of figuring that out," Wedge said. "I was real proud of the way this kid came out and played every day, and it wasn't easy for him at times."
Both players will begin rehab exercises on Friday and are expected to be fully ready by the start of Spring Training.