Caught up with GM Jack Zduriencik during batting practice today and he told me the team hopes Mariners manager Eric Wedge could be back at his post for the start of the upcoming homestand next Friday. And if Wedge comes back, he’d resume full duties right away with the aim of continuing that way the remainder of the season.
Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson had said this week that Wedge could be back at some point next homestand and it was possible he’d be eased back into duties. But Zduriencik said if Wedge comes back, he wants it to be at full capacity to be fair to both him and the players.
What remains now is for Wedge to meet with his doctors later in the week and see whether he’s cleared to go back. Zduriencik said he expects to get final word on that by Thursday and if he does, Wedge would go back in the dugout on Friday.
As for tonight’s game, Justin Smoak says he still feels comfortable playing here at Rangers Ballpark, even though it’s no longer “home” for him. Smoak, of course, hit a solo home run in last night’s ninth inning — the 12th in 264 career plate appearances at the stadium dating back to 2010 when he broke in with the Rangers.
“Now being in Seattle for the last two or three years, it’s definitely not the same as it was the first time I came back,” he said of playing here. “I know a lot of the guys over there and their whole staff. It’s hot here. I like playing in the heat, so it’s good.”
Indeed he does.
Since the All-Star Break ended, Smoak has hit .313 with an OPS of .950 in the mid-summer weather. Overall, he’s at .273 with an .821 OPS.
Mariners manager Thompson has Smoak batting in the No. 6 spot today and says there are no plans to move him to the middle of the order, despite the prolonged slump by Michael Morse — batting clean-up tonight. Since coming off the DL on July 30, Morse has hit just .173 with one home run and an OPS of .526.
Thompson said the team feels it’s best to keep Smoak right where he is.
“I think it’s been working and Smoak has been comfortable,” Thompson said. “He has done well. So, we did talk about ‘Do we move him up? Or just leave him where he’s been? And where he’s not thinking that he’s got to do even more because he’s been moved up in the lineup?’ So, we’ll just keep him there where he’s done well.”
Nick Franklin gets a day off today as he battles through his first prolonged career slump. Mariners roving infield coach Chris Woodward was back out there during batting practice today working closely with Franklin on his fielding.
In other news, Franklin started a new Twitter account today. He can be found at @NickFrank20.