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Aoki making progress before fifth season in majors

Kyodo

Norichika Aoki said he is finding his feet at the plate on Sunday after going 2-for-2 in a preseason game for the Seattle Mariners.

Aoki, who is starting his fifth season in the majors with his fourth club, had a single, a double, a walk and scored a run from the leadoff spot in a 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

“My at-bats are gradually getting better,” said the 34-year-old, who did well last year for the San Francisco Giants until his season was derailed by injuries suffered when he was hit by pitches.

“I want to hold on to my good form from last year and improve on it.”

Since leaving the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, where he won three batting titles, Aoki has been trying to find a solution to the power pitching that has become prevalent in the majors.

“I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and trained thoroughly during the offseason to be able to hit the way I believe I can,” he said.

After two sharp hits, Aoki drew a six-pitch walk after falling behind in the count 0-2, but said walks are not a priority.

“I’m not just going up there to watch, but it’s important to be selective when you’re up there trying to hit,” he said. “If it’s a ball I think I can hit, I’ll swing. The rest is about keeping the process simple and replicable.”