SEATTLE -- As much as Mariners left-hander Garrett Olson has tried to keep the same approach when starting or relieving, the numbers indicate he's better off where he is now -- in the bullpen.
"I actually feel comfortable in either role," he said on Monday night, "but I think I got caught up in trying to do too much when I started. I got a little off-track and now I'm focused on getting back to the basics."
Going into the series opener against the White Sox at Safeco Field, the 25-year-old lefty had compiled a 3.72 ERA in 12 relief appearances covering 19 1/3 innings. In 11 starts, he is 3-5 with a 6.49 ERA.
"I think I tried to make too many 'pretty' pitches as a starter," he said. "You know. I found myself trying to hit the corners all the time, instead of just going after the hitters. When you come into a game out of the bullpen, you have to attack the hitters right away."
It took him several outings, and some chats with teammates, to finally figure it out.
"I have been talking to some of the veteran guys, like Miguel [Batista], about their approach," Olson added. "They all make the point that whether you're a starter or reliever, you have to treat them the same."
Acquired from the Cubs on Jan. 28 along with infielder Ronny Cedeno for pitcher Aaron Heilman, Olson is the only left-hander in the Mariners bullpen. He has held opposing lefties to a .260 batting average (20-for-77), surrendering three home runs.
Though right-handed hitters have a lower batting average, .254, they have hit 15 home runs off Olson in 197 at-bats. The 18 dingers he's allowed are the most on the pitching staff -- four more than right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, who has 12 more innings.
"Early on, when I was having success, I believed in my stuff and attacked hitters," he said. "I need to get back to that."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.