SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu understands that he's not going to make Yuniesky Betancourt "the poster child for selective hitters," but he is seeing some progression.
"What has impressed me is, he did lay off of some pitches [Saturday] and ended up having some good at-bats, the home run and the line drive," Wakamatsu said. "I think it's just the focus, to really understand what on-base percentage really means, to put that above batting average."
Wakamatsu and batting coach Alan Cockrell have been preaching selectivity and patience to Betancourt since Spring Training. But he is a notorious early-count swinger who had only two walks through the first month. Finally, Wakamatsu benched him for the final two games of the recent road trip.
"I think he realizes he has to change because of the lack of playing time," Wakamatsu said. "I think that sends a message sometimes."
Betancourt responded on Friday with two walks, including taking 10 straight pitches.
"Obviously, he got the message. We'll see how he does going forward," Wakamatsu said. "When you start getting production from hitters, then teams tend to pitch you differently. Then you don't have to swing as much."
Betancourt said it's early in this new approach, "but I've been seeing better pitches.
"I going to try it for now. It's still early. I don't know if it will be a short-term thing or a long-term thing, in terms of how long it will take to adjust. This is what's best for the team. I'm going to do it as long as I can and see how it works out."
Asked how his two-game benching helped drive home the message, Betancourt said that didn't bother him.
"You have to focus on what you can control," Betancourt said. "I'm an aggressive hitter, but I'll do what's best for the team. This is what I'm going to continue to do."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.