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Mazara adds first career slam to red-hot start

Rangers outfielder making strides after emerging in 2016
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Overlooked in the Rangers' season-opening three losses to the Indians was outfielder Nomar Mazara going 7-for-12 in the series with two doubles and a home run. He is the first Rangers player to ever start the season with at least two hits, one run and one extra-base hit in each of the first three games.

"This started early in Spring Training," manager Jeff Banister said. "He was strict on his routine and professional on his routine. He understands the most important thing he can do is stay disciplined on his routine. Don't have any questions or doubts on how he stands in this game. He is a very talented player who can hit."

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ARLINGTON -- Overlooked in the Rangers' season-opening three losses to the Indians was outfielder Nomar Mazara going 7-for-12 in the series with two doubles and a home run. He is the first Rangers player to ever start the season with at least two hits, one run and one extra-base hit in each of the first three games.

"This started early in Spring Training," manager Jeff Banister said. "He was strict on his routine and professional on his routine. He understands the most important thing he can do is stay disciplined on his routine. Don't have any questions or doubts on how he stands in this game. He is a very talented player who can hit."

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Mazara stayed after it in Friday night's 10-5 win over the A's. He drove in a run with a first-inning grounder and then hit his first career grand slam in the second inning. The shot traveled 427 feet according to Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 109 mph. Mazara added a run-scoring single in the sixth, finishing the night 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs. He is 10-for-17 after four games.

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

"I feel pretty good right now," Mazara said Friday night. "If I get a good pitch to hit, I'm ready and I put a good swing on the ball."

The hot start suggests Mazara has learned from his rookie season. Mazara, called up on April 10, hit .324 with 10 home runs, 28 RBIs and a .495 slugging percentage in his first 53 games. He hit .228 with 10 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .369 slugging percentage in his last 92 games.

Video: OAK@TEX: Mazara on big game, gets doused by teammates

Mazara didn't realize what was wrong until September.

"I thought it was mechanical," Mazara said. "I felt good. But they were throwing me a lot of balls outside the strike zone. I was trying not to chase and I would still chase. Then they threw me my pitch and I wouldn't be ready for it."

Mazara said he is taking a simple approach at the plate. He is waiting for his pitch early in the count. If he gets it, he is aggressive with his swing. If not, he tries to be patient until there are two strikes and then he has to protect the plate.

"I just have a plan, and I need to stick with it the whole year," Mazara said. "Last year, I got out of my plan."

Last year, he was a rookie finding his way through the American League. This year, he has a quiet confidence.

"This is a guy who absorbs information better than any young player I have ever seen," Banister said. "Now he has a better sense of how to use it. This is a special player and he has a special IQ for hitting. Now, in his own mind, he knows to stay true to his routine and stay true to his approach, and don't let anything get him off that."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Nomar Mazara