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August 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Pre-game notes: Chris Ray to DL, Wedge says Smoak will be back in lineup Tuesday

The Mariners made another roster move today, placing reliever Chris Ray on the disabled list, retroactive to July 30, with what is being called a strained right shoulder latisimus dorsi, and recalling left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey from Tacoma. Laffey had been optioned to Tacoma on Saturday but never pitched for the Rainiers.
“You push that too soon, and tear that thing, it can go from two weeks to two months, or three weeks to three months,” manager Eric Wedge said of Ray’s lat strain. “He’s starting to get a little bit better, but by putting him on the DL, we’ll give him the time and make sure we don’t take any chances.”

Laffey, meanwhile, think he knows the key to his recent struggles. “I need to get the ball back down,” he said. “It’s pretty simple. If you’re up in the zone, guys will hit it. For the whole year, I was consistently down in the zone. Even when I missed, I missed down. I happened to have my three worst outings back to back to back. I’ll take three bad outings for a whole year.”
And of his brief stint with Tacoma, Laffey said, “Not a bad little breather.”
Wedge had his own observations about Laffey’s struggles.
“I think he’s gotten away from being as aggressive as he needs to be. He did a real good job with his fastball and sinker and going right at hitters, getting ahead and staying ahead. Then you can throw that changeup in there, and the breaking ball and cut the ball a little bit. You have to establish yourself first so you can help them commit a little bit.”
Meanwhile, the Mariners are going with a 24-man roster today, with the vacancy being the starting pitcher who will replace Erik Bedard on Wednesday against Oakland. Wedge said no decision has yet been made, but he might be ready to announce the starter after tonight’s game with the A’s.
“We had a lot of conversation after the game yesterday, a lot of conversation today with Jack (Zduriencik) and Carl (Willis) and I. We’re trying to mange the roster the best we can, and trying to look not just at Wednesday but beyond Wednesday.
“At some point in time, we feel it’s a possibility we could still go to six starters. I’m not sure now is the right time to do it. Right now, let’s let the dust settle a little bit. I would like to give (Charlie) Furbush a chance to start at some point, so we have to work through all that. But I want to look beyond that, too. That’s what we’ve been talking about.”
When I asked Wedge whether the fact that Anthony Vasquez was scratched from his scheduled start in Tacoma tonight meant anything, he said, “We’re keeping all our options open.” Then he smiled and said, “That’s good.”
FInally, Wedge discussed Justin Smoak, who is out of the lineup for the second day in a row. Wedge said there’s nothing wrong with Smoak physically, and he’ll be back in there tomorrow.
“We’re letting him do some work,” Wedge said. “I had a good talk with him yesterday. It just gets him away a little bit, physically and mentally. I see him getting a little bit better in BP. He’s doing some of the things he needs to do to be successful, to get back to doing some of the things that allowed him to be successful earlier. He’s going through what he needs to go through to find out what type of big-league player he’s going to be, what type of hitter he’s going to be. I feel strongly he’s going to be a good one.”
Wedge stressed that he didn’t sit Smoak because he sensed excessive frustration.
“No, not at all. Sure, I think we’re all frustrated to a certain extent, and when you’re struggling individually, that’s part of it. But I don’t think it was beyond anything unreasonable. It wasn’t anything necessarily I saw from him. It was what I was seeing, and what I feel he needs right now. We have two months left. That’s a long time. I want to make sure and everyone else here gets accomplished what they need to get accomplished.”
Smoak has had a right thumb bruise, of which Wedge said, “That’s maintenance from time to time, but I don’t think it’s an issue. A lot of guys get that. You’d be surprised. It’s just part of it. You just have to stay on top of it.”



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