Mariners’ Mike Zunino shares the key to his red-hot month at the plate

Jun 24, 2017, 9:02 AM
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has nine home runs and 29 RBIs already in June. (AP)...
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has nine home runs and 29 RBIs already in June. (AP)
LISTEN: Mariners C Mike Zunino on his big turnaround, Andrew Moore's debut

On Friday afternoon, Mike Zunino took some time out of his red-hot month of June for an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” in Edgar’s Cantina. A few hours later, he got back to being on fire at the plate.

Zunino crushed a 403-foot, three-run homer in Seattle’s series-opening win over Houston, putting him at nine homers and 29 RBIs for the month, only four short of the franchise record for most RBIs in any month. Earlier in the day, he talked about the adjustments he’s made that have helped him become one of the hottest hitters in baseball.

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The most notable change for Zunino has been a more upright stance in the batter’s box with a pronounced leg kick, and he said that’s put him in a better position to hit pitches in the strike zone, which was what held him back earlier in the year.

“I keep my feet much closer together, incorporating a leg kick that to me is keeping me from swaying back, and that’s sorta been the key,” Zunino said. “I’ve put a little length in my swing, good length in the zone, and it’s helped me cover more pitches.”

Zunino didn’t see immediate results when he returned from a short stint in Triple-A in early May, but he credits manager Scott Servais for keeping him on track.

“Skip did a good job of just saying, ‘Hey, trust it. Trust it and the results will come.’ It started picking up some steam, and then when you believe in it and you see the results coming, that confidence of walking up to the plate knowing that can compete and have a good at-bat is key.”

Even with an impressive slash line of .348/.397/.803 in June, Zunino said he’s just beginning to get down all the ins and outs to his new approach. The important part is that he can adjust on the fly now, like in Friday’s game – his homer off Houston starter Joe Musgrove came an inning after Musgrove set him down swinging in an at-bat that was far from Zunino’s prettiest.

“I really had to make some big adjustments. It was something that came a little bit quicker than I thought and I’m still learning it now,” he said. “I mean obviously there’s stuff every day that you’re gonna sorta battle and try to iron out and try to get those old habits out of there, but it’s something that’s felt pretty good and something that I believe in.”

Zunino covered several more topics in the interview, including what he saw catching rookie Andrew Moore’s debut win on Thursday. You can listen to a podcast of the conversation at this link.

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