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McLaren looks for improvement

McLaren looks for improvement

SEATTLE -- The Mariners have been inconsistent so far this season and manager John McLaren plans to address the situation in a group session.

"Our record isn't that bad, but we need to start playing more consistent baseball," McLaren said during his pregame media session on Friday. "We need to tighten things up and I'm going to tell them as a group, shortly."

The Mariners, proclaimed by many including themselves, as the leading challengers to the reigning champion Angels in the American League West, went into Friday night's series opener against the Athletics at Safeco Field with an 11-12 record, three games behind the co-leading Angels and Athletics.

"I think everybody knows the bar has been set high," McLaren said. "We've had some challenges, with J.J. [Putz] out, and have fought through that. But we need to start playing an all-around game."

The offense and relief pitching have been sporadic, but the biggest surprise is the number of errors.

"Defense is one of our strong suits and we made three more errors last night and that's not us," McLaren said. "We are a good-fielding ballclub and use defense to our advantage. Other clubs don't have that ability because we can make plays they can't make.

"But we have to settle in and use [defense] as a positive. It has not been a positive the way it should be."

The Mariners have an infield that includes a Gold Glove winner at third base in Adrian Beltre, a potential Gold Glove winner at shortstop in Yuniesky Betancourt, a solid defender at second in Jose Lopez and a first baseman in Richie Sexson who stands tall and is adept at snagging throws into the dirt.

But after 23 games, the Mariners have committed 12 errors, including four each by Beltre and Betancourt. Seattle ranks 12th in the American League in fielding -- ahead of only Oakland and Texas.

This was supposed to be the "soft" part of the schedule and, while the Mariners have played the Angels tough, splitting six games, and beating the Athletics twice in two games, losing six of seven games to the Orioles has put a big damper on April.

"I've been happy with the effort, but not with the execution," McLaren said. "We'll be better off with a little better concentration and a little better anticipation and that's the message I would like to send. When you think ahead, it's easier to execute."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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