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McClendon preaching patience with scuffling bats

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SEATTLE -- Lloyd McClendon has watched his Mariners struggle offensively after getting off a hot start on their season-opening road trip, dropping near the bottom of the American League in batting average, scoring and on-base percentage.

But the former Tigers hitting coach says he's taking a longer-term view of his club's offensive abilities and believes it's far too early to think about shaking things up or changing personnel from what he felt was a solid lineup coming out of Spring Training.

"I had a long talk with somebody I really trust about this," McClendon said prior to Tuesday's game with the Astros. "You leave Spring Training with a club you feel good about, you're 20 games into the season and you're not playing as well as you should. You don't drastically change your feelings about how you feel about those players.

"You continue to encourage them and make them better and prod them and hopefully in the very near future, they'll get going the way you think they can. And that's our plan here," he said. "I don't [plan] to make any drastic changes, I don't feel any different about my players now than I felt coming out of Spring Training. I like my club, I think we're talented.

"Are we short in some areas? Yeah," McClendon said. "But I like my club and I like the pitching. We're banged up a little and have been dealt a tough hand, but we'll deal with that. We'll bluff our way through it and in the end, we'll be just fine."

McClendon said he feels it takes about 50 games to get a real feel for a team and its direction.

"Over the course of a season, guys are going to accumulate 500-550 at-bats," he said. "I don't think I'm going to change my mind after 50 at-bats. I don't know what that cutoff mark is. Maybe somewhere around 150 at-bats you see what you've got and whether you need to make changes, but it's certainly not at the 40-50 mark."

McClendon said players are naturally pushing too hard right now to turn things around.

"I just see guys that are in a funk right now," he said. "When you lose seven in a row, guys press a little. That's just the nature of the business. But at some point you have to come out of it. Maybe it's a broken-bat single, maybe it's a home run. I don't know. But I'll know when it happens and you will, too."

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.

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