Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Victoria's Saunders Belts Two Home Runs with New Swing as Mariners Beat Jays: Saunders Kills Jays with New Swing

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Victoria's Saunders Belts Two Home Runs with New Swing as Mariners Beat Jays: Saunders Kills Jays with New Swing

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Michael Saunders admits that he was desperate this past off-season.

The Seattle Mariners centre-fielder needed to improve his hitting so he worked with private hitting instructor Mike Bard in Colorado during the winter.

The result is a more compact swing, and the Victoria native showed it off in a big way at Rogers Centre Friday night.

The 25-year-old left-handed batter hit two home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays, including his first career grand slam against left-hander Luis Perez in the 10th inning, as the Mariners earned a 9-5 comeback victory.

Saunders' ninth-inning homer against Francisco Cordero cut the Blue Jays lead to 5-4 and made it possible for John Jaso's pinch-hit single to tie the game. His grand slam was the clincher.

It was the second two-homer game of his career with the other coming June 30, 2010 at Yankee Stadium.

While he knows there is still work to be done, it showed that he is making progress after batting .149 with two home runs and eight runs batted in with the Mariners in 58 games last season. He also spent time in 2011 with triple-A Tacoma.

"I was desperate, last year was a real tough year for me," Saunders said. "I really worked hard on shortening my swing, making it more compact.

"That was the biggest thing, trying to create a larger margin for error. Having the barrel in zone longer instead of just in and out and being able to hit pitchers' pitches as well.

"I needed it literally on a tee for me last year. I went out and found myself a private hitting coach and basically was all ears."

After going 2-for-4 with the two homers and five runs batted in on Friday, Saunders is batting .254 with three homers and 11 RBIS in 18 games.

He has had four two-hit games in the past six games to lift his batting average from .189.

"You're going to have your good days, you're going to have your bad days," Saunders said. …

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