With deadlines and such, we weren’t able to talk to Jack Cust last night after the game. The Mariners DH didn’t appear for some time after the game, in which he provided the game-winning hit.
But he talked before today’s game about his big RBI double off of Bobby Jenks.
“It felt good,” he said. “That’s the swing I’m looking for on a pitch middle-inside, taking it the other way. That’s the swing I’m trying to do every time. It felt good to get a big hit there for the team.”
Cust knows he’s struggling. He knows that he’s not hitting the ball hard. But he’s hoping that will chance. Basically he feels was pressing and trying too hard to make an impact.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “It’s a new team, new teammates, new coaches. I know they know what I can do, but when you start the season slow, that’s all you have to look at is that crap that is up there right now. You can’t help but get caught up in it.”
What makes the stats – or “crap” as he referred to them – look so bad is because it’s early in the season. A bad slump doesn’t look as bad if drops you from .280 to .240. But when that batting average is under .200, it looks even worse.
“If the same thing is happening in June, July or May, you’ve already got some other good stuff to show for it,” he said. “When you start the season like this, you’ve got to remember what you’ve done your whole career and think about all the positive things you’ve done and just keep that in you rmind and keep working hard, coming to the park every day waiting to feel something.”
Lately he’s been feeling a out of sync in the batter’s box. There is no great mechanical change that needs to be made.
“It’s not mechanical,” he said. “Your swing is your swing. I’m 32 years old and there’s only so much you can do. It becomes mechanical when the timing is not there. To me it’s all rhythm and timing, when your rhythm and timing is messed up or you lose a little bit of aggression because you’re thinking too much that’s split seconds you can’t make up.”
Cust knows he takes a lot of pitches. He knows he takes pitches that a lot of other people would swing at. But he believes in his approach.
“You are looking for a pitch,” he said. “He doesn’t throw it. Then take it. It’s strike one. You don’t care. When you are struggling, sometimes you are like, he’s going to throw a fastball and I’m going to swing at it. And you end up swinging at a pitch that maybe is a strike, but it’s not really a good pitch to hit. And you end up putting a soft ball in play.
But if you wait the at-bat out and you get a better pitch to hit later. You can’t be scared to go deep in counts, which I’m not. I strike out a lot. I walk a lot. I go deep in counts. But when you are struggling, sometimes you force yourself to hit in certain counts instead of letting it happen. So I’m trying to get back to seeing the ball, trusting what I see and my swing is getting close. Hopefully I can keep that swing like yesterday, and if I can keep my swing right.”
Cust will know because it will feel right in the batter’s box. And he hasn’t felt right much this season.
“Once you feel it, you have to take it over and just be consistent every day with your at-bats and get the timing and feeling,” he said. “It’s a slow process. I wish it would happen overnight, but I think I’m getting closer and closer. So we’ll see.”