SEATTLE -- Mike Zunino entered the batter's box with the bases loaded in his third at-bat of Saturday's contest "not trying to do too much."Taking it easy for Zunino led to a 441-foot projected home run that left the bat with an exit velocity of 111.5 mph and his first
SEATTLE -- Mike Zunino entered the batter's box with the bases loaded in his third at-bat of Saturday's contest "not trying to do too much."
Taking it easy for Zunino led to a 441-foot projected home run that left the bat with an exit velocity of 111.5 mph and his first career grand slam. It had some wondering if it was going to leave Safeco Field altogether.
"That was a long ways," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Zunino's fifth-inning moon shot in the Mariners 9-2 win over the Rays. "I thought it had a chance to go out of the stadium, just the trajectory of it. Cool night, but that's about as far as they go in the upper deck here."
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It was the cherry on top for a career night offensively for Zunino with seven RBIs, the 14th time a Mariners player finished with seven or more RBIs in a game -- Mike Cameron, Alvin Davis and Mike Blowers hold the club record with eight in a game. The most runs Zunino had knocked in during one game before Saturday was three.
Zunino flashed a bat with considerable pop at times during his five-year career, but hasn't been able to produce consistently. A .167/.250/.236 slash line in the first 24 games of the season prompted him to be sent back down to Triple-A Tacoma to rework his swing.
Saturday was a showcase game for his adjustments.
"I think everybody can see the new mechanical adjustments Mike has made," Servais said. "He's staying a little taller, trying to stay above the ball. … He's on it, he's in here everyday kind of [to] regroove his swing. He continues to make adjustments with it."
The difference, according to Zunino, is that he's recognizing the mistakes on his own rather than having them pointed out by the coaching staff.
"I think he has a true understanding of what's going on right now and he can feel it when it doesn't go right," Servais said. "So he can make the adjustment quicker versus Edgar [Martinez], Scott Brosius or myself telling him. He's making the adjustments on his own."
Could Zunino be here to stay with an newly-found confidence at the plate? He thinks he's getting close.
"There's a level of confidence and that's much needed," Zunino said. "Now I can just sort of look for my pitch now and attack it. I don't have to worry about where my body is or doing anything like that. It's just nice to step into the box and feel like you can hit."
Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.