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Edgar helping Mariners' bats get turned around

SEATTLE -- A Mariners offense that struggled through a tough first half has awakened considerably since the All-Star break, and manager Lloyd McClendon is happy to point to new hitting coach Edgar Martinez as a big reason.

Martinez replaced Howard Johnson five weeks ago, and his work appears to be paying off with youngsters Mike Zunino and Brad Miller, as well as with a veteran group that has finally begun putting things together.

The Mariners averaged 3.5 runs per game with a slash line of .236/.296/.382 in the first 89 games of the season. And while the warm July weather certainly plays a part of any midseason sample, the 10 games since the All-Star break have produced a healthy 4.7 runs per game and a far more acceptable slash of .263/.332/.444.

"Obviously Edgar was a great hitter. I think our guys are taking to him," McClendon said. "They're buying into his concepts. As a result, we're swinging the bats better. We're scoring more runs and being more competitive."

Can Martinez have that much of an effect in midseason?

"I think that has something to do with it, absolutely," McClendon said. "I think he's made an impact with Zunino and Miller. He's working with [Logan] Morrison, trying to get him going. And the other guys are playing to the back of their bubblegum cards and doing things they're capable of doing, and that always helps."

McClendon said Martinez's reputation brought him instant credibility with the players. And as a former hitting coach himself for seven seasons with the Tigers, McClendon said that is the toughest part of a midseason arrival.

"When you talk about teaching and coaching, the biggest thing is the relationship you have with the players and getting them to buy in and start to trust what you're talking about," McClendon said. "And I think he's done a remarkable job with that in a short period of time. Having said that, there's still miles to go with other guys that he's still trying to get to buy in. It takes time."

Worth noting

• Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 9, has yet to throw off a mound as he recovers from left biceps tendinitis. McClendon said he's close to taking that step, but for now remains limited to flat-ground catch.

James Paxton, Seattle's other southpaw on the DL, is also waiting to be cleared to throw off a mound as he returns from a strained left middle finger. But Paxton is much further behind. He's been sidelined since May 29 and is likely looking at September as his earliest return date.

"The doctors reiterated that it's going to take time," McClendon said. "We're in week [nine] and they were talking 6-12 weeks, so we just have to be patient. It's an area that doesn't get a lot of blood flow and it's just tough. Until he feels good without the tape [on his finger], we can't progress any further. He's still throwing flat ground. Once the pain is gone without the tape on, then we can progress to the mound."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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