Ryan returning to full-field approach at the plate

Ryan returning to full-field approach at the plate

OAKLAND -- For all the talk about adding more offense to the middle of their lineup this season with the addition of sluggers Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, the Mariners are hoping for a boost from other places as well. And one of the easiest improvements would come from No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan.

The slick-gloved shortstop hit just .194 last season with a .277 on-base percentage, well below his career averages of .244 and .306. It was a frustrating year for a guy who hit .292 for the Cardinals in 2009 and believes he can contribute with the bat as well.

Ryan hit .261 (12-for-46) this spring with a .320 on-base percentage and thinks he's getting back to a better spot at the plate with what he calls an "Eckstein-ish" approach, in reference to former Major League infielder David Eckstein.

"I feel pretty good," Ryan said. "I'm getting back to an approach I've had success with, using the whole field, not just in games but with all the practice swings before games and in the cages. That's something that's familiar to me and what has helped me get up to the big leagues and have some success offensively in the show.

"I don't know why I got away from it, but getting back to using that full-field approach, seeing the ball better, keeping the ball on the ground. I'll be trying to make bunting more of my game this season. Bring that third baseman in and it should open up more of the field on the pull side."

Ryan is making his third Opening Day start for the Mariners, joining first baseman Justin Smoak as the only position players who were in the first-game lineup from 2011.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.