The latest Mike Zunino swing update comes complete with a series of pregame checkpoints designed to keep him pointed in the right direction.
"There are drills that I’m doing," he said, "are an actual step-by-step stuff where I can isolate each part of my swing in the cage before batting practice. That way, I know I’ve hit every checkpoint before I go into the game.
"That frees you up going into the game. You know you’ve done that, got it to you liking, and then you can bring it into the game."
The Mariners recalled Zunino on Monday after a 12-game refresher tour at Triple-A Tacoma suggested his swing had stabilized. He opened the season by batting .167 in 24 big-league games.
"It was like Hitting 101," manager Scott Servais said. "Let’s start back at the basics, and get him to understand where his deficiencies are — and then attack them.
"Make sure he understands them. So it’s not just us telling him, `Do this, and you’ll be fine.’"
Servais refers to the checkpoints as the Zunino Rules, while noting (Michael) Jordan had his rules. (Yes, he laughed in saying it.)
Zunino points to some mechanical adjustments — a narrower stance and holding his hands a bit higher. But it really was a return to his approach in spring training, when he batted .333 with six doubles and four homers in 39 at-bats.
"I just got out of whack (once the season started)," he said. "My first couple of series, I was hitting balls well. Then when the results didn’t come, I wanted to make some adjustments, but it just took me in the wrong direction."
The final straw came when he started missing fastballs down the middle. Club officials saw no alternative to a head-clearing trip to the minors. Zunino batted .293 at Tacoma with five homers and 11 RBIs in 12 games.
"One hundred percent (better)," he said. "That was the thing. I cleaned up a lot of path issues. I was hitting the breaking ball well down there. I was hitting the fastball. My timing was better. I’m excited to apply it here."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners