ADDITIONAL NOTE: Join me at about 8:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday for Talkin’ Baseball on Sports Radio KJR’s Mitch in the Morning show. We’ll talk Ichiro, Justin Smoak, the future of this Mariners ownership group and so much more.
With all the emotions still swirling over Ichiro’s trade today, the Mariners still had some decisions hanging over them after the game as Mike Carp must be promoted back to the big league club tomorrow or risk being passed through waivers to be outrighted to the minors.
The Mariners are going to promote Carp tomorrow but are holding off in the interim because there is an additional move they are contemplating. In the meantime, they announced tonight that first baseman Justin Smoak is headed to AAA.
Smoak went hitless tonight and is in an 0-for-19 sump with nine strikeouts over that stretch. His average is down to .189 and his OPS is at .573. There was once a time, when Smoak was acquired two years ago in the Cliff Lee deal, when people thought his slugging percentage might be what his OPS currently is.
And that’s never good.
“Hey, this is for him,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Smoak’s demotion. “This is what we feel like is the right thing to do for him right now to give him a break, to give him a different environment without the pressure of the big leagues.
“To where he can go down there and work to get on track, to find it. And to find it with some consistency.”
Smoak was summoned into a post-game meeting with Wedge and GM Jack Zduriencik and told the news. He was predictably devastated, but composed himself enough to speak with the media for a few minutes.
“I think everybody’s seen what’s been going on,” Smoak said. “It’s just one of those things where you go down there, get your work in and I get back to where I was a couple of months ago.
“It’s a matter of just getting that feel and finding something day-in and day-out that gets you to where you want to be.”
As much as Ichiro is getting the headlines today, what is going on with Smoak is far more pertinent to this team’s future. The Mariners need to get him right or else this rebuilding effort will have suffered a setback indeed.
As for this team, tonight’s loss was a continuation of the offensive struggles we saw throughout the series with the Rays.
Smoak is the first position player of consequence to pay a price with his big league job. We’ll see whether others follow at some point in the days and weeks ahead.