Nearly one week after revamping his batting stance, Kendrys Morales is back to his old self following a monthlong slump.
Morales has squared up consistently on pitches all week since studying video footage in Kansas City last week to see how his stance had changed from earlier this year. He’s kept the stance tighter since and Sunday accounted for the only Mariners run against the Tampa Bay Rays with a solo homer in the second inning.
Since making the changes before last Tuesday’s game in Kansas City, he has gone 9 for 21 (.429) with three homers. Before this stretch, he’d gone a career-high 28 games without a home run.
“I’m seeing the pitches a lot better,’’ Morales said through interpreter Ryan Schmitz.
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The home run, off Rays starter Matt Moore, was the 20th of the season for Morales. It’s his second straight campaign of at least 20 homers since he missed nearly two years after breaking his ankle in a home-plate celebration in May 2010.
Morales has a .282 batting average and lifted his on-base-plus-slugging mark up to .795.
The late-season numbers boost could be big for Morales, 30, as he tries to convince teams he’s worth locking up to a multiyear extension.
Nick Franklin was out of the lineup one day after getting a Justin Smoak knee to the back of his head while both were chasing a pop-up in Saturday’s game. The Mariners did use Franklin on Sunday as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter, watching him strike out to end the game.
Afterward, Franklin said his head still feels a bit sore from a knot where Smoak’s knee hit him. He said he felt “a bit disoriented’’ lying on the ground from the blow but never lost consciousness.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was proud of how Franklin stayed in Saturday’s contest.
Wedge also said the decision to keep Franklin out of Sunday’s lineup had more to do with wanting to give Dustin Ackley some playing time at second base.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.