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April 27, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Let’s see whether Mariners hitters can continue building on their luck

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You can see Mariners DH Jack Cust in the photo above. Cust enters tonight’s game with a .175 batting average after notching a single in his final at-bat of last night. The Mariners are keeping a close eye on Cust, waiting to see whether he shows signs of bringing his power bat to life.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was asked before last night’s game what Cust has to do to show progress — beyond the obvious, like hit a bunch of home runs.
“Obviously, it’s always an indicator, when you’re hitting pull-side ground balls, regardless of who you are, usually, that’s an indicator that you’re a tad off,” Wedge said. “But for him, it’s making the type of contact towards the middle of the field that’s going to allow him to settle in and find it.”
Cust had been doing that in spring training.
“You saw him really doing that, driving the ball,” Wedge said. “So, it just looks like his timing’s been a little bit off and I think maybe he’s tried to be a little too exact up there.”
Cust pulled a couple of ground balls to the right side again last night. But he also lined out to first base and then pulled another ball into right field for his single.
When asked about Cust today, in his pre-game session with reporters, Wedge said: “I felt like he had a couple of better at-bats last night.”
So, we’ll see whether he builds off it. It won’t be easy, with Justin Verlander on the mound tonight for the Tigers.


Wedge went on to talk about Chone Figgins, now batting .165 after that triple last night.
“He’s had more tough luck offensively than anybody,” Wedge said. “He’s made more hard outs than anybody we’ve had. But I think that he’s a guy that takes a lot of responsibility on himself. He has a great understanding of what we’re trying to do here and he’s going to be a big part of it.
“So, what he has to do is just keep grinding, keep coming out here each day. I think when he looks up at the end of the year, he’s going to be really pleased with his year.”
As for Miguel Olivo, now batting .185 after a home run and a double last night, Wedge told him he’s now a permanent part of history, since that highlight of his deflected home run ball last night will likely be replayed for decades to come.
All three guys are back in there tonight.
Olivo will catch Erik Bedard, still looking for his first victory. I asked Wedge about Bedard’s drop in velocity and whether it’s common for there to be a wide range in the amount of time it takes individual pitchers to return to prior norms.
“It’s a good question, but it does vary by the man,” Wedge said. “And by the situation. I think the fact that he was really out for a while — that’s significant. But I think we saw arm speed and the type of velocity and action we needed to see this spring. We’ve seen bits and pieces of it, too, here early on. It’s just about being more consistent, being more comfortable out there on the mound. And being able to repeat his delivery and pitch the way he’s capable of pitching.
“But in regards to the timing of it, everybody’s different. I’ve seen it in all shapes and sizes, whether it be starters or relievers. Different types of injuries, different types of time being off — which I think is as significant as anything.”
So, what is it that’s keeping his velocity low? The time off from injury? Or, just the fact it’s a new season with colder April weather and stuff?
“Not to welch on the question, but really it’s probably a combination of both,” he said. “The time off but also just getting back on the mound for the first time and getting ready to work in the big leagues for the first time in a while.”
The lineups:
MARINERS
RF Ichiro
3B Chone Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
C Miguel Olivo
1B Justin Smoak
DH Jack Cust
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Brendan Ryan
CF Michael Saunders
LHP Erik Bedard
TIGERS
CF Austin Jackson
2B Ryan Raburn
DH Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
SS Jhonny Peralta
LF Brandon Boesch
3B Brandon Inge
C Alex Avila
RF Casper Wells
RHP Justin Verlander

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins

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