Mike Zunino was back behind the plate Saturday night in his 21st start since being called up a month ago.
The Mariners have used Zunino far more frequently than they did Jesus Montero or John Jaso last year. This past week, he caught five consecutive games, something Jaso and Montero never did.
“I don’t think they were conditioned like Mike is,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s the thing. Being conditioned to play every day. He is.’’
Zunino threw out Mike Trout attempting to steal second base on Friday night. He has nabbed two of nine potential base-stealers thus far, a success rate of 22 percent — just off the league average of 25 percent.
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But there might be a deterrent effect in play as well. Since Zunino’s June 12 arrival, opponents have attempted only 0.44 steals per game compared to 0.80 before that.
Opponents are also now stealing just 0.33 bases per game as opposed to 0.67 before Zunino arrived.
Wedge said he’s pleased with Zunino’s overall play beyond just his arm. Zunino entered Saturday hitting just .235, but was coming off a 3-for-4 game the night before and was 6 for his last 16.
“I like what I see,’’ Wedge said. “He’s handled all the pitchers fine, he’s thrown the ball well, blocks the ball very well, works hard. He’s getting a better feel for our pitchers in regard to calling a game. And he’s getting experience to the league. Those are all positives.’’
• Stephen Pryor threw a simulated game Saturday, with Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley standing in as hitters. The Mariners hope to send Pryor out on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Class A Everett during the upcoming All-Star break.
Gutierrez could head out on a rehab assignment shortly as well. The Mariners want to see how he feels Sunday morning before making a decision.
As for Michael Morse, his quadriceps is still too sore to go out just yet. He’ll have to wait at least until after the break.
• Raul Ibanez’s two homers on Friday made him the oldest player since Moises Alou on Aug. 12, 2007, to have a multi-homer game. Ibanez and Alou were both aged 41 years, 40 days when they hit their blasts.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners