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05/04/08 5:15 PM ET
Slump extends to Mariners' callups
Early struggles for Clement, Balentien fit with rest of offense
By Jim Street / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The last thing Jeff Clement wanted when he joined the Mariners last week in Cleveland was to be forced to do too much to help a stagnant Seattle offense. Clement wanted to blend into the lineup, but it hasn't worked out that way. Just like almost everyone else on the team, Clement has been pressing, and the results are typical. Through Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Yankees, Clement was 3-for-14 with two walks and six strikeouts. "To a certain degree, blending in is easier said than done," Clement said. "Obviously, you want to come in and help the team immediately. You want to help so much that you try too hard, and the harder you try, the harder it is to do anything well." The trap many young players fall into has also affected outfielder Wladimir Balentien, who is 3-for-18 since he joined the team, with Clement, from Triple-A Tacoma. "Everybody wants to do well, and [Clement] came into a situation where we have been struggling," manager John McLaren said. "Like any young kid, you have to get your feet underneath you, and we know he will." McLaren said the same thing goes for Balentien, who slugged a three-run home run in his debut game against the Indians. Clement hit .397 with two home runs and 20 RBIs at Tacoma. "I had a pretty good routine down there, and it's a matter of getting back to that," Clement said. "I think I've gotten away from it a little bit. There is a tendency to try to do more, but that is not the right approach." Clement is certain that he, and the Mariners' other hitters, will soon start scoring runs in bunches. "Hitting is such a fickle thing," Clement said. "You have to be relaxed. When you are, there are positive thoughts, even with an 0-2 count. When you're going well, you know you have one strike left and it's not that big a deal. "But when you struggle, an 0-2 count feels like a lot bigger deal than it is."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.