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Zunino feeling better after work with Edgar

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Mike Zunino got off to a strong start and was batting .280 with nine homers in his first 26 games with the Mariners this season. But then came the slump -- an 0-for-20 stretch with 12 strikeouts -- at the end of August that sent that average plummeting to .221 and left some wondering if the 25-year-old was headed back to the problems that plagued his first three seasons in the Majors.

But Zunino got to work with hitting coach Edgar Martinez, went back to the approach that he worked so hard on while with Triple-A Tacoma in the first half of the season, and had gone 4-for-14 with two home runs and a double in his past four games going into Friday's series opener with the Astros.

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SEATTLE -- Mike Zunino got off to a strong start and was batting .280 with nine homers in his first 26 games with the Mariners this season. But then came the slump -- an 0-for-20 stretch with 12 strikeouts -- at the end of August that sent that average plummeting to .221 and left some wondering if the 25-year-old was headed back to the problems that plagued his first three seasons in the Majors.

But Zunino got to work with hitting coach Edgar Martinez, went back to the approach that he worked so hard on while with Triple-A Tacoma in the first half of the season, and had gone 4-for-14 with two home runs and a double in his past four games going into Friday's series opener with the Astros.

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"I was feeling really good, but obviously you always want to continue to get better," Zunino said. "I tried to make a couple little tweaks to make it a better all-around thing, and it sort of took me in the wrong direction. So it was nice to really go back to what I was doing and see instant results again."

Manager Scott Servais called Zunino into his office when the catcher started to struggle and told him to relax and remember every player goes through slumps at various times. The message seemed to resonate.

"For me, I've been there more times than not," Zunino said. "So it was nice to have had some success and know what to go back to. That part and sort of navigating through those bad times is something I've learned to cope with. It's nice to be able to do that and keep the focus on what you want to do, and then get back to where you were. It's reassuring to know that what you were doing was working."

Worth noting

• First baseman Adam Lind's sprained right index finger was feeling better Friday and he took batting practice for the first time since injuring it last Sunday in Oakland. Rookie Daniel Vogelbach got the start again in his place in the series opener against the Astros as Servais wanted to see how Lind's finger held up while gripping a bat for the first time, but Lind could be back in the lineup on Saturday.

• Tacoma hitting coach Scott Brosius and pitching coach Lance Painter have joined the Mariners now that their season is over, and Rainiers manager Pat Listach will hook up with the team in Houston on the next road trip. One extra coach can be designated to be in uniform on the bench before each series.

• To celebrate the eight-game win streak the team carried into the Astros series, the Mariners are selling tickets for all available View Reserved seats for $8 for the three-game Houston set this weekend.

The Mariners entered the series ninth in the American League in attendance this season at 27,800 per game, and Servais said it would definitely be a boost if fans came out in support as the team makes its postseason push in the final two weeks.

"Absolutely," Servais said. "It's the Seattle Mariners. It's a good sports town. Obviously they've supported the soccer team, the football team, they've supported the baseball team in the past. It's a good sports town and I'd hope they take advantage to embrace the opportunity and come on out and have a good time. I don't know what's going to happen in the next two weeks, but I guarantee you we're going to have a good time."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

 

Seattle Mariners, Mike Zunino