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June boom! Zunino having monster month

Mariners catcher hitting .338 with 9 HRs since callup
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Want to know the key to Mike Zunino's scorching pace in June?

Some of his comrades offered some ideas Monday after the Mariners' 6-2 win over the Tigers. Jarrod Dyson, who went 3-for-4 and is hitting .348 in his last 22 games, suggests his own propensity for getting on base while hitting in front of Zunino in the lineup has been a crucial factor. Reliever James Pazos urged Zunino to "keep eating ice cream," hinting at the catcher's love for frozen treats.

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SEATTLE -- Want to know the key to Mike Zunino's scorching pace in June?

Some of his comrades offered some ideas Monday after the Mariners' 6-2 win over the Tigers. Jarrod Dyson, who went 3-for-4 and is hitting .348 in his last 22 games, suggests his own propensity for getting on base while hitting in front of Zunino in the lineup has been a crucial factor. Reliever James Pazos urged Zunino to "keep eating ice cream," hinting at the catcher's love for frozen treats.

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In Zunino's words, it's much simpler: planning and routine.

The Mariners catcher continued to reap the benefits of his new swing changes, launching two home runs and collecting four RBIs on Monday.

"It's just trusting the routine, trusting the process," Zunino said of his recent success. "I'm in the cage trying to do the same routine every day, trying to be as disciplined as I can with the bat as I can in practice, just to drive the ball the other way, and it's paid off."

Video: DET@SEA: Servais discusses Zunino's two-homer game

Paid off is an understatement. Zunino propped his RBI total up to 26 in June, the most in the MLB and tied for the fifth most in June of any player in Mariners' history. Since being called back up from Triple-A Tacoma on May 23, Zunino is hitting .338. Nine of his 10 home runs and 28 of his 30 RBIs on the season have been recorded since being brought back up to the Majors.

The eye-popping statistics and figures go on and on.

But those didn't come with some divine intervention or epiphany. It was earned with a demotion down to Triple-A on May 5 to retool his swing and his approach, something that's happened before in Zunino's four-year career.

But this time was different. He sat down and looked at hitters who he could emulate -- Matt Holliday of the Yankees was a big influence, according to Zunino -- and he developed some hitting drills and crafted a routine.

With this approach, Zunino hoped it'll be the last time he'll have to hit the reset button.

"To me, it was one of those things where you really have to go out and make a different swing now," he said. "Obviously what I was doing wasn't working. The last couple years I've become more patient, but it's one of those things where you have to change your swing and give yourself a chance."

Zunino is making strides in other areas, too. Manager Scott Servias noted his impressive performance managing the pitchers behind the plate, especially working with reliever Pazos to induce two inning-ending strikeouts with the bases loaded.

Video: DET@SEA: Pazos fans Romine with the bases loaded

"Those are the type of things winning catchers do," Servais said. "We love the home runs, believe me I love them as much as anybody. But taking that next step in terms of leading our pitching staff was huge tonight."

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.

Seattle Mariners, Mike Zunino