Mariners' Morales beginning to catch fire

After a slow start, bat of offseason power acquisition Kendrys Morales heating up

Staff writerApril 10, 2013 

Maybe it’s the self-produced heat that has convinced Kendrys Morales he doesn’t need batting gloves.

Morales has shoved a bumpy opening week behind him on his way to an 8-for-16 stretch over the past four games coming into Tuesday. He has three doubles, a homer and five RBI in those four games. He started the season 1-for-12.

At times, Morales was wearing batting gloves. He has dispatched them of late, saying it’s warmer out so they are no longer needed. It’s an odd take considering he has progressed from Arizona to Oakland to Seattle.

During his uptick, Morales has been lauded for his approach. He doesn’t give at-bats away, providing a mid-order grind the Mariners have been missing for several seasons.

“Any at-bat, they just count,” Morales said through interpreter Jaime Navarro. “That’s what my

responsibility is.”

Strongman Michael Morse has flipped. After a hot start, he’s 2-for-12 with five strikeouts in his past three games coming into Tuesday. The Mariners are waiting for each to provide heat at the same time.

REPORTS ON HOT ZUNINO ‘GOOD,’ SAYS WEDGE

A day after saying it’s too early to be concerned about slow starts, Mariners manager Eric Wedge caught himself when talking about the early positives from Tacoma Rainiers catcher Mike Zunino, saying it’s too early to put much weight on the brisk beginning.

Zunino has video game numbers. He’s hitting .500 and has a 1.901 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) heading into Tuesday’s game. He has 12 RBI in 16 at-bats.

“He’s a good player,” Wedge said. “All reports have been good. I can’t really say more than that. We really gave him a lot of exposure this spring. It was good for him and good for us to see.”

Wedge said things won’t always be Smurfs and rainbows for Zunino — baseball doesn’t work that way.

“Some point in time, it will happen,” Wedge said of a bump in the road. “Who knows when and where, but when it does, he’ll make the adjustment and keep moving. He’s been pretty impressive here in his brief pro career, no doubt about it.”

LINE ’EM UP

The Mariners used their ninth lineup in nine games Tuesday. Third baseman Kyle Seager got a night off from the starting lineup with left-hander Erik Bedard on the mound for Houston.

“It’s not 1975 anymore,” Wedge said. “You’re not going to have the same nine guys out there every day. They’re not going to stay with the same team for 10 years. It just doesn’t work that way.”

ON TAP

The Mariners face Brad Peacock (0-1, 4.15 ERA) tonight at 7:10. Blake Beavan (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will pitch for Seattle to wrap up the series against the Astros. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM. Texas comes to Seattle on Thursday for a four-game series.

todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @Todd_Dybas

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