Back in lineup, Cust provides punch for Seattle

Back in lineup, Cust provides punch for Seattle

SEATTLE -- Jack Cust was back at designated hitter on Tuesday for the Mariners for the first time in two weeks, and the veteran did his part to provide a needed spark for a club searching for offensive help.

Cust, who was just 3-for-30 this month coming into the game with sporadic playing time not helping his attempt to find his batting stroke, went 2-for-4 with a homer and an RBI double in the Mariners' 5-4 loss to the Braves.

His last at-bat was a screaming line drive to right field off tough lefty Jonny Venters, but Jason Heyward made an excellent catch before bumping into the wall.

The 32-year-old didn't play at all in 12 of the previous 19 games and, with the Mariners playing National League rules for six days last week, he's had only three pinch-hit appearances in Seattle's previous 10 outings.

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"I understand the situation," said Cust, who lost time to rookies Mike Carp and Carlos Peguero as he's hit just .222 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in his first three months with Seattle. "I feel I can help the team out. Obviously I haven't up to this point hit to my potential, but I'm a streaky guy.

"I haven't gotten hot yet. I feel like I can get hot and carry a team for a little bit when I do. I've done it in the past. It's no secret we've been struggling to score runs, so they're trying anything they can. And unfortunately for myself, it's cost me at-bats, but that's the way the game is.

"I can't say I've done anything to warrant playing any more than I have, but I'm just hoping my timing is good and it clicks and go from there. Because I feel like can help this team score runs."

Cust's last start was June 14 against the Angels when he went 0-for-2 with a walk. That's a long stretch for any hitter to sit, and Cust is no exception.

"It's hard because you're not playing for a reason, so you're working on making things better in the box, but you can overdo that as well," he said. "You get a couple pinch-hit at-bats and things don't go well, so you try something else and then something else."

Ultimately, the Mariners just want Cust to be the guy they hoped for when they signed him as a free agent after slugging 97 home runs the past four years for Oakland.

"Custy hasn't been in there in quite awhile," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been a terrific teammate. He's handled himself as a great pro. We've had some good conversations. He's been working in batting practice and utilizing his time to try to find it.

"I think it's a good opportunity to try to get him in there," said Wedge, who expressed frustration with his offense after Monday's 3-1 loss to the Braves. "Obviously it's a good time to shake things up, try to get these guys going. I felt it was a good point in time to put him in there today."

The hard part, for Cust, is that these rare opportunities now represent what might be his last chance to show he can still help. Yet balancing that kind of pressure on an already difficult situation isn't easy.

"My first month was terrible, the second month I thought was better," Cust said. "Then I was hitting OK in June, not the way I'm capable as far as driving the ball, but I felt like my swing was getting better. Then when you start not playing, you try to get it as perfect as you can. It's a fine line between trying to do too much. When it comes down to it, it's just about getting in there and hitting the ball."