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Originally published April 30, 2011 at 7:26 PM | Page modified April 30, 2011 at 10:43 PM

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Cust pulling less, hitting more balls to opposite field

Mariners designated hitter Jack Cust said the doubles he had hit the opposite way his previous two starts had him in a better frame of mind before Saturday's game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Next five

Sunday @ Boston, 10:35 a.m., ROOT | Hernandez (3-2, 3.32) vs. Wakefield (0-0,5.56)

Tuesday vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Bedard (1-4, 5.96) vs. Ogando (3-0, 2.30)

Wednesday vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Pineda (4-1, 2.01) vs. Wilson (3-1, 3.12)

Thursday vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Vargas (1-2, 5.45) vs. Lewis (1-3, 6.95)

Friday vs. Chicago, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Hernandez (1-2, 5.45) vs. Humber (2-3, 3.06)

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BOSTON — Mariners designated hitter Jack Cust said the doubles he had hit the opposite way his previous two starts had him in a better frame of mind before Saturday's game.

Cust had been pulling a lot of pitches to the right side of the infield rather than hitting balls in the air the other way.

"When I'm going well, I can take the pitches middle-in and hit them to left field and not have to pull them," Cust said. "And that just helps me wait on the ball longer. I don't feel I have to get out there and try to pull the ball."

Cust entered Saturday's game hitting just .185. But he reached base his first two times up via walks and then lined a single the opposite way to left.

The 32-year-old said before the game that, at his age, there isn't much mechanical work that can be done to change a swing he has pretty much always had. Instead, he said, it's more about not trying too hard and overswinging when he's up there.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "It's a new team. You've got new teammates, new coaches. I know they know what I can do, but when you start the season slow, that's all you have to look at ... So, you can't help but get caught up in it. The same thing has happened in June, July or May, but you've already got good stuff to show for it (before that). When you start the season like this you don't have much. You've got to remember what you've done your whole career and think of the positive things you've done."

Notes

• The Red Sox have changed their rotation for Sunday's series finale, sending knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the mound in place of Clay Buchholz, who is ill. Wakefield, 44, has been around the game so long that Mariners manager Eric Wedge got to catch him during the 1995 season when he left Pittsburgh to pitch for the Red Sox.

• Mariners closer David Aardsma lasted only two-thirds of an inning in his latest rehabilitation assignment for Class AAA Tacoma on Friday. Wedge said Aardsma was pulled for pitch-count reasons, adding that the cold weather wasn't making his outing any easier.

Aardsma's velocity is down but Wedge said Aardsma's hip feels fine. The Mariners will bring Aardsma to Seattle on Monday to have him get "checked out" by medical staff in what Wedge said is a routine thing.

After that, he added, the team will re-evaluate what to do, but will probably send Aardsma back for a few more games.

"He's just got to pitch a little bit more," Wedge said. "It's like spring training for him."

• The Mariners have opted not to alter their rotation for the Texas Rangers series with an off-day on Monday. That means Erik Bedard starts Tuesday on an extra day's rest rather than the two added days he had before his last outing in Detroit — when his velocity was up.

Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas go Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, on a day's added rest apiece. Felix Hernandez pitches Friday against the Chicago White Sox on regular rest.

For the record: W-L: 13-15 W PCT: .464 Streak: W5 Home: 5-8 Road: 8-7 vs. AL West: 4-6 vs. L.A.: 0-0 vs. Oakland: 4-3 vs. Texas: 0-3 vs. AL East: 4-1 vs. AL Cent: 5-8 vs. NL: 0-0 vs. LHP: 5-5 vs. RHP: 8-10 Day: 2-7 Night: 11-8 One-run: 5-3 Extra inngs.: 0-0

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

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