The subject of various rumors and rumblings this off-season, Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak appears to finally have some stability about his gig this season and beyond.
That’s true, at least, if you’re willing to take a manager at his word when he says something on February 24th.
I told him he’s my first baseman…I told him that this winter. Having said that, he still has to go out and perform. I like what I see (this spring) from him. He’s doing a pretty darn good job.
“He’s come here in great shape, and he’s making the (necessary) adjustments at the plate. His BP is a lot crisper now. He’s taking BP with a purpose…We might have something.
“It’s sitting there, and we’ve got to get it out of him.”
Of everything McClendon mentioned there, it’s the adjustments at the plate that will loom as the most important. While the Mariners brought in veteran options Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to take some at-bats and help bolster the lineup, the pop in Smoak’s bat offers far more upside than either of those guys.
The Mariner want to contend right now, but in order for that to happen, guys like Smoak will have to make big contributions. Maybe that’s why McClendon is dubbing Smoak his starter so early on.