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June 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Jack Cust hopes to re-establish himself in Mariners lineup

Jack Cust is back as the starting designated hitter tonight for the first time since June 14. He has had just three at-bats since then as the Mariners have looked at other options at DH, especially Mike Carp and Adam Kennedy. Cust brings a .216 average into tonight’s starts with just two homers and realizes he’ll have to better that to earn more playing time.
“I understand the situation,” Cust said. “I feel I can help the team out. Obviously, I haven’t up to this point hit up to my potential. I’m a streaky guy. I haven’t gotten hot yet. I feel I can get hot and carry a team for a little bit when I do. I’ve done it in the past. It’s no secret we’ve been struggling to score runs. They’re trying anything they can. Unfortunately for myself personally, it’s cost me at-bats. But that’s the way the game is. I can’t say I’ve done anything to warrant playing anymore than I have. When I get in there, I’m hoping my timing is good and it clicks and go from there. I feel I can help this team score runs.”

Cust worked on his stroke and mechanics while he was out but admitted the bench role was not easy.
“You’re not playing for a reason, so you’re trying to work on things to make things better in the box,” he said. “You can overdo that as well. You get a couple of pinch-hits at-bats, and something doesn’t go your way, you try something else, and try something else. Especially me, I’m not really good at sitting still. Even during the game, I go to get loose, and I end up doing three different drills, and hitting off two different machines and then it’s like, I just hit 100 balls. I was just trying to get loose. It’s just a mental thing. You just want to get right.”
He said the hardest part when you’re struggling offensively, and especially when you’re playing infrequently, is to let the game come to you.
“You want to try and force things and whatever. You haven’t seen pitches, either. It’s a combination of things. Everyone is always putting pressure on themselves to do well, especially when you’re not scoring runs. That’s one of the hardest things as a team, offensively, to relax, and when there’s a runner on second or third, it’s not a life and death situation to get him in. That’s what it seems like sometimes when you’re only scoring one run, two runs and the chances are limited. You sometimes put a little extra pressure on yourself when what you really need is to back off a little bit.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge praised the way Cust has handled his time on the bench.
“Custy hasn’t been in there in quite a while,” he said. “He’s been a terrific teammate. He’s handled himself as a great pro. We’ve have some good conversations. He’s working in BP. He’s utilizing his time to try and find it. I think it’s a good opportunity to get him in there. Obvioulsly we are still trying to shake things up and get things going.”
Also on the bench today is Franklin Gutierrez, whose average has fallen to .197. Greg Halman gets the start in center.
“I think he is improving,” Wedge said of Gutierrez. “We’ve talked about it before. It’s been a very unusual year for him, through no fault of his own. Now what we need to see, and it’s what we’ve been seeing more of the last four or five games, where he’s staying in at-bats longer and he’s making better outs. He’s utitlizing the middle of the field a little bit more. He’s had a few timely hits for us. Those are the tthings that indicate he’s headed in the right direction.
“He’s been a little better. But we need everyone to do that. I don’t want it to be Groundhog Day. I want to see improvement. It may not get results. But I want to see adjustments. I want to see us doing a better job in hitters counts. I want to see us do a better job when we are behind in counts.”



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