That’s not a typo in the headline. Jack Cust is starting at DH and batting eighth. Mariners manager Eric Wedge explains the decision in the video above.
Cust was at his locker and talked with reporters about his role on the team and his lack of playing time.
“I understand the situation,” he said. “I feel I can help the team out. Obviously, I haven’t up to this point hit up to my potential. I’m a streaky guy. I haven’t gotten hot yet. I feel I can get hot and carry a team for a little bit when I do. I’ve done it in the past. It’s no secret we’ve been struggling to score runs. They’re trying anything they can. Unfortunately for myself personally, it’s cost me at-bats.”
And while he wants the at-bats back, he knows they have to be earned.
“But that’s the way the game is,” he said. “I can’t say I’ve done anything to warrant playing anymore than I have. When I get in there, I’m hoping my timing is good and it clicks and go from there. I feel I can help this team score runs.”
It’s kind of the thing about being on the bench when you are slumping. These guys will all look good during BP sessions, so any verification of swing changes or approach adjustments need to be from game reps.
“It’s hard,” he said. “You’re not playing for a reason, so you’re trying to work on things to make things better in the box. You can overdo that as well. You get a couple of pinch-hits at-bats, and something doesn’t go your way, you try something else, and try something else.”
Massive changes for someone like Cust would probably be more detrimental than helpful.
“I’m not really good at sitting still,” he said. “Even during the game, I go to get loose, and I end up doing three different drills, and hitting off two different machines and then it’s like, I just hit 100 balls. I was just trying to get loose. It just a mental thing. You just want to get right. It could be your stance, where starting, head position, whatever it is. IT’s hard to know what it is until you get in the game and feel what you’re working on.”
Of course, Cust can’t come in and try to win back a starting spot tonight. It’s hard to do. Every player wants to play and start.
“You always put pressure on yourself no matter what,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a little harder to let the game come to you in those situations. You want to try and force things and whatever. You haven’t seen pitches, either. It’s a combination of things.”
Realistically, the way the starters have been hitting, they should be feeling the pressure too.
“Everyone is always putting pressure on themselves to do well, especially when you’re not scoring runs,” Cust said. “That’s one of the hardest things as a team, offensively, to relax, and when there’s a runner on second or third, it’s not a life and death situation to get him in. That’s what it seems like sometimes when you’re only scoring one run, two runs and the chances are limited. You sometimes put a little extra pressure on yourself when what you really need is to back off a little bit.”
Wedge gave the struggling Franklin Gutierrez a night off as well. Lost in the struggles of Cust and Chone Figgins is the fact that Gutierrez is hitting .197 (23-for-117) with a .230 OBP and a .248 slugging percentage. Of course, Gutierrez has a legitimate excuse, he hasn’t been right most of the season because of the irritable bowel syndrome.
- 51 Ichiro RF
- 26 Brendan Ryan SS
- 4 Adam Kennedy 3B
- 17 Justin Smoak 1B
- 13 Dustin Ackley 2B
- 30 Miguel Olivo C
- 20 Mike Carp LF
- 29 Jack Cust DH
- 56 Greg Halman CF
36 Michael Pineda RHP
- 1 Jordan Schafer CF
- 22 Jason Heyward RF
- 16 Brian McCann C
- 10 Chipper Jones 3B
- 5 Freddie Freeman 1B
- 26 Dan Uggla 2B
- 20 Eric Hinske DH
- 2 Alex Gonzalez SS
- 13 Nate McLouth LF
48 Tommy Hanson RHP