Although the Mariners lost to the Cubs 12-10 on Saturday, Zunino went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. His most recent performance follows up Friday's outing where he hit two homeruns.
Th 23-year-old batted .199 in 2014. The catcher is working to bring up his average by keeping his bat in the zone longer.
"That's the goal and then the pitch is going to dictate where you hit it," he said. "If my path and direction can stay to the pitcher and focus up the middle and I just trust my hands to hit where the ball is pitched, I think that's going to be the key."
"The one thing we've tried to stress with him is when you stretch the field from foul line to foul line, you become a better and more dangerous hitter," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "And he's working on it. It's a work in progress, but he's getting better."
After appearing in a career-high 131 games in 2014, including 130 appearances at catcher,
“I think if we can get him into the 145 range -- 140 to 145 -- then he should be good to go for the entire season,” McClendon said. “We probably overplayed him a little too much early on last season, but it was out of necessity. We had a very tough staff to catch.”
However, McClendon's goals might be a little ambitious. Only 10 times in the last 15 years have a catcher started at least 140 games -- and seven times it was Jason Kendall.
The three others players reached that plateau are Salvador Perez (2014, Royals), Russell Martin (2007, Dodgers) and Brad Ausmus (2000, Tigers). Although, Kendall accomplished the feat twice (2003, 2004) when McClendon was the manager of the Pirates.
"For me, it's just totally committing on going to right-center," Zunino said, per MLB.com. "That's been my strength for a while, and that keeps my bat in the zone longer. When you don't feel 100 percent or start to get a little fatigued, you try to generate too much, and that was pulling me off my swing. If you can get that path to right-center and stay balanced, I think that's going to be the key to changing things."
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is confident the 23-year-old catcher will become a better all-around hitter.
"The natural progression is he knows the league a little better from an offensive standpoint now," McClendon said. "He's got to become a better hitter. We know he has the power. But he has to commit himself to becoming a better hitter, shorten up his stroke in certain situations, and he's committed to doing that. I'll remind all of us that it's just not that easy sometimes. Hitting the baseball is probably the most difficult thing to do in any sport. He'll get better. He'll work at it."
Zunino broke a 1-1 tie with his fourth-inning blast, putting his team up for good and earning a critical win as the Mariners chase a potential Wild Card berth. Despite displaying quality power numbers this season, Zunino has struggled to consistently deliver hits. He owns a .199/.256/.409 line with 21 home runs and 57 RBI in 413 at-bats.
Zunino had just one hit in the game, a solo home run, as he finished 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. He has just two home runs in the month of August so far, after totaling at least four in each of the previous three.
Zunino has been a pretty all-or-nothing hitting this year, as he carries a .205/.261/.418 line with 19 home runs in 106 games.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs L.A. Angels|
|vs L.A. Angels||54||12||2||.250||.407||.222|
|vs Rasmus (Career)||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Last 7 Games|
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|More Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
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