Wedge confident bats will bust out like in spring

Wedge confident bats will bust out like in spring

SEATTLE -- When the Mariners were thumping the ball this spring, optimism grew that this club would be far better offensively than the group that finished last in the American League in batting the past four years.

But the Mariners were hitting just .219 going into Wednesday's game with the Tigers, ranking ahead of only Tampa Bay in the 15-team American League in batting average and slugging percentage.

Manager Eric Wedge remains convinced that initial 15-game output isn't indicative of how his club will hit over the full season, however.

"Spring Training is Spring Training, I get that," Wedge said. "But as baseball people, you look at swings and contact and what they're hitting and how they're hitting it. And we've got guys here that are going to be able to transfer that over to the regular season. It just hasn't happened yet, for whatever reason. Everybody is different.

"In years past, I'd have to sit here and pick my words carefully, but this year I can honestly look you in the eye and say, 'Hey, listen, I really do believe we're going to be a pretty good offensive ballclub.' And that's just a lot of experience and belief in what I see. We're off to a little bit of a slow start, but I think that will fix itself sooner rather than later."

It certainly was a positive for the Mariners on Wednesday to see Franklin Gutierrez (sore hamstring) and Michael Morse (fractured finger) back in the lineup for a second straight game after they'd missed three games each. And Wedge said Michael Saunders is looking like his sprained shoulder might be ready to go as soon as his 15-day disabled list stint expires on April 26.

"We're looking to establish some consistency if possible," Wedge said. "Of course we still don't have Saunders, but he had a good work day today. He took some dry swings and felt pretty good, so he's working his way back as well."

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.