Good to see a strong performance in today’s 6-5 win by some younger bats the Mariners need a few things from this year. Of course, Michael Morse also hit his 6th home run, which leads all major leaguers in spring training.
But Morse wasn’t alone in doing damage. Jesus Montero was unloading the lumber all day, getting a long double in a three-run fifth inning by the Mariners after Coco Crisp had robbed him at the wall in the second inning. See that Crisp catch in the video below.
Justin Smoak, as we mentioned earlier, also came through with a pair of hits, both from the left side. Smoak ripped a hard single to right in the second inning and the drilled a double into the right field corner in the sixth. He’d later come around to score on a single by Dustin Ackley — his second hit of the game — that rocketed up the middle and into center field.
“Shooting that ball up the middle, that was good to see,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve seen him be more consistent in his BP, with his direction — the way the ball is coming off his bat. He’s spraying the ball around with some authority. He uses his lower half a lot better this year and that helps free up his hands a little more.”
We saw Class A fireballer Carson Smith enjoy another good outing, shutting the A’s down in order in the ninth. The final out was on a called strike.
The Mariners, as it stands, could choose to keep Smith in the bullpen as a fifth right-hander. But that would likely come at the expense of Lucas Luetge, a situational lefty who had penty of first half success last year. Luetge has struggled at times this spring and got hit hard again today, giving up a double and later a long sacrifice fly in the eighth.
The thing to remember with Luetge, though, is he depends on his ball moving a lot and that’s sometimes tough to do down here in Arizona. We saw Hisashi Iwakuma struggle to get his pitches to break down in the zone today over his five inninngs as well.
Wedge said he was pleased to be able to get Smith the chance to work a high pressure situation in the ninth.
“It’s something we’ve been doing with a lot of different guys,” Wedge said. “Giving them that type of experience and that type of exposure in that type of setting. He’s been very consistent all camp, very impressive — and he was again today.”
But when asked what a performance like that could do for Smith, Wedge talked about him more like he’s an option for depth down the road if somebody gets hurt. Not to break camp with.
“You know as well as I do, you’re going to run through multiple pitchers in the bullpen and probably the starting rotation,” Wedge said. “Hopefully, that’s not the case, but that’s just the reality of it. The depth that we need to have and to have the ability to watch these guys pitch in these types of games in spring training is important. It’s great experience for them and it allows us to see them, so that when they do get the call they should be that much more comfortable.”
In other words, don’t go crossing Luetge’s name off the big league roster any time soon.