Justin Smoak is getting dressed in the clubhouse as we speak and can’t wait to get back on the field, having not started a game since May 26. He’s back in the lineup tonight, playing first base, which gives Michael Morse a needed night off to rest his sore quad.
Smoak had his on-base percentage up to .350 and was finally starting to hit for some power when he got hurt.
“I just need to stay locked in to what I was doing,” he said. “Just be ready to hit and let it fly. Hopefully, that’s where I’m going to be from here on out.”
Smoak began an injury rehabilitation stint on his strained right oblique muscle late last week. He told me it was only about the third day when he began feeling comfortable swinging from the left side again against right-handed pitchers.
The Mariners tried using him as a pinch-hitter against right-handed pitchers on May 30. But then, they opted to put him on the 15-day DL when his injury wasn’t clearing up. Smoak gets the majority of his at-bats from the left side , so keeping him exclusively to his right-handed was a bit of a waste.
“It felt like a month,” he said of the layoff. “That part wasn’t easy.”
Alex Liddi, as expected, was optioned back to AAA to make room for Smoak.
We should see Dustin Ackley up here shortly as well. The Mariners want to get him as many outfield reps as possible before calling him up, since the plan is to use him in the outfield on a regular, if not daily, basis.