Jose Vidro received his share of criticism in the first half, when his . 286 batting average was supported by a paltry . 349 slugging percentage percentage...

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CHICAGO — Jose Vidro received his share of criticism in the first half, when his .286 batting average was supported by a paltry .349 slugging percentage.

Vidro, the Mariners’ designated hitter, has stepped it up since the All-Star break.

His .389 batting average entering Saturday’s game against the White Sox ranked fourth in the American League in the second half, behind only Chone Figgins (.434), Carl Crawford (.432) and Robinson Cano (.422).

Vidro has also spiked his slugging percentage to .445 since the All-Star break to go with a .484 on-base percentage.

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“This is a full year; it’s not a first half and a second half,” he said. “You really have to look at the numbers at the end of the year.”

Vidro said that his legs, a constant source of problems in past years, have gotten stronger as the season progresses, crediting what he calls “the best training staff in professional baseball.”

He also said his confidence has grown. But he added he’s never going to be the traditional DH big bopper.

“They knew that,” Vidro said of Mariners management. “They offered me to be the DH here. They knew I was not a home-run hitter. They knew I was a gap and a line-drive hitter, and they put me in the second spot. You want a guy in the second spot with high on-base percentage that can get a base hit, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Betancourt still learning

Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt received a few gentle words of advice from coach Carlos Garcia on Friday after his second poor relay throw on this road trip.

The Mariners thought they had Jermaine Dye thrown out at the plate on Juan Uribe’s double off the wall in the seventh inning. But Betancourt hurried the relay and got off an awkward, semi-sidearm throw that nearly sailed over catcher Kenji Johjima’s head. Johjima speared it, but couldn’t get the tag on Dye, who scored the go-ahead run.

“He has great accuracy in his arm, but he was off-balance in his throw because he was trying to rush it,” said Garcia, who works with the M’s infielders.

“We’ve seen him make that throw correctly time and time again. That happens to every young infielder. Yuni can throw, field and hit. We need him to be consistent in that part of his game.”

Mariners manager John McLaren is willing to be patient with Betancourt on matters like this.

“He didn’t have a lot of schooling in the minors,” McLaren said. “There are a lot of things he’s learning at the major-league level, which is not ideal. But he’s such a great talent he got up here quickly.”


• The Mariners were among the teams hot after Royals setup man Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline, and were supposedly willing to part with prime outfield prospect Wladimir Balentien.

The Braves got him instead, and watched Dotel compile an 8.31 earned-run average in five games. Now Dotel has gone on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder.

The Mariners also were interested in White Sox starter Jon Garland, who stayed in Chicago. In his first start after the trade deadline, Garland lasted just 1-1/3 innings against the Yankees, giving up nine hits and eight runs.

Garland recovered to work seven strong innings in his next outing to beat Cleveland. The Mariners will miss both Garland and Mark Buehrle in their current series with the White Sox.

• The New York Times’ Murray Chass interviewed billionaire Warren Buffett this week about his love of baseball. In the article, Buffett recalled giving advice to Bill Gates in the early 1990s when the new Mariners ownership was seeking investors.

“Bill Gates asked me if he should buy into it,” Buffett told Chass. “I said: ‘If you love baseball, buy it. But if you buy and you don’t win every year, you’ll be a bum.’ ”

Gates chose not to invest in the Mariners.

For the record

64-50 .561

Streak: W1

Home: 37-22

Road: 27-28

vs. AL West: 20-17

vs. L.A.: 4-8

vs. Oakland: 10-3

vs. Texas: 6-6

vs. AL East: 22-12

vs. AL Cent.: 13-11

vs. NL: 9-9

vs. LHP: 22-8

vs. RHP: 42-42

Day: 17-15

Night: 47-35

One-run: 19-17

Extra innings: 4-1

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