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Mariners slugger Daniel Vogelbach breaks down approach to career year

Daniel Vogelbach has 12 home runs for the Mariners this season. (Getty)

Mariners slugger Daniel Vogelbach is playing his best ball for Seattle – he’s tied for a team-high 12 home runs, and leads the team in OPS (1.002) and on-base percentage. Hours ahead of Seattle’s Friday night home contest against the Minnesota Twins, Vogelbach joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore to talk about his development as a hitter.

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You can hear Vogelbach’s full interview in the audio clip embedded above. Here are a few highlights:

Have you changed your swing much since you’ve gotten to the big leagues? “I changed my swing last offseason. I was just trying to find a way to really use the power that I had; I really wasn’t using it correctly. So it’s just more of trying to be short and use my legs more. For me, I always say just swing it 50 percent and let everything else do the work. Sometimes I can over-swing, and when I over-swing things get out of whack and it really gets off balance.”

Did you ever have doubts along the way in your career, or is this a kind of validation for you? “I never had any doubt in my mind. Being up and down so much and not really getting a full opportunity just with the way things shape out for the team at that year, you can sometimes doubt that you’re going to get an opportunity. But I’ve never really doubted my ability. I’ve always really believed in myself, and I think the best in the world always believe in themselves, no matter what’s going on or how many ups and downs they’ve gone through. When you stop believing in yourself, I think that’s maybe when the end’s there.”

You attribute some of your success to just being yourself. How much of a relief was that for you to feel like you get it? “I play my best when I’m smiling and trying to put smiles on other people’s faces. That’s just kind of how I go about life. And the Mariners have been great about letting me be myself. It’s really helped me ease my way into the big leagues, especially with this year being the first time to get a full opportunity, just to be myself and be vocal and try to be a leader, and just every day be as competitive as possible.”

How do you develop such a good eye at the plate? “I hate striking out. You’ve got no chance to get on the base if you’re striking out… (so I) try to really shrink the strike zone. Throwing strikes is not easy, especially with how much pitchers make the ball move… (you) just have to try to do damage early on… I mean, I try to stay on the fastball every at-bat. I’m looking fastball and I trust my eyes to adjust off-speed. It’s way easier to look for a fastball and hit an off-speed pitch than look for an off-speed pitch and hit a fastball at 95. I can’t do it.”

So you don’t guess very often? “No, I don’t really guess ever… when I’m looking for other things it’s not good, it ends bad (laughs).”