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Almonte steady at the top for Mariners

MIAMI -- Even with the shuffling of Sunday afternoon's lineup, one thing remained a constant for the Mariners: Abraham Almonte starting in center field and leading off.

Including Sunday's series finale at Marlins Park, Almonte had started all 18 games for Seattle this season, reaching base in 14 of them, with hits in 13, including four multi-hit games.

"I don't try to do too much," Almonte said. "I do what I know and play the game the way that I know and if anything doesn't go well, I adjust the way I'm supposed to. I go to my coaches and figure it out. So far, I'm just trying to be the same guy."

Consistency is tough for any young player to achieve, and the 24-year-old outfielder is no different.

A night after going 2-for-5 with two extra-base hits and two strikeouts, Almonte went hitless in four at-bats against Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez on Saturday.

"It's one of the biggest things I've seen in baseball, always," said Almonte, who is batting .233 with four doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs. "It comes with confidence and relaxing and believing you can do it. Working hard and trusting yourself so you can do it. Bad days are going to come. If you don't trust that you can do it it's going to be tough."

Almonte's mentality is in the right spot -- working on seeing more pitches, striving for patience and finding a way to get on base for RBI guys like Robinson Cano and Corey Hart. He ranks 45th in the big leagues with 3.97 pitches per plate appearance.

Prior to this season, Almonte had played in just 25 games at the Major League level, so his experience is low and his learning curve high.

"I think he'll get better as he gets around the league a second time and just learns the pitchers," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think he's making a conscious effort with two strikes to be a better hitter. The other part of that comes with knowledge -- knowledge of the league. He'll get better."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to
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