By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
ANAHEIM — Asked about the September first baseman Justin Smoak has had and what it means, Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge grew animated Wednesday.
“It’s a big deal,” Wedge said. “Smoak is a power-hitting switch-hitter, a good fielding first baseman, but he has to produce. You watch what he’s done the last two, three weeks, it’s because of some fundamental changes.
“When he turns on a 95 mph fastball and hits it out left-handed, there’s not much more you can ask of him.”
A night earlier, Smoak continued his sizzling month by hitting a home run from each side of the plate — the first time he’s done that in the majors.
“I’ve done it before, and had the opportunity to do it more often,” Smoak said. “A lot of times I’d hit one out early in the game, and try to hit one later in the game, and that just doesn’t work for me. I hit them when I’m not trying.”
Smoak began the game Wednesday batting .362 with nine runs, four doubles, four home runs and eight RBI in 18 September games. That’s pulled his season average from .189 to .212, given him a share of the team home-run lead (18) and pushed him to 48 RBI.
“This hasn’t been a good season, but I’ve put in a lot of work,” Smoak said. “Where I’m at now, I feel like I can continue this right through the offseason and into next year. The frustration is, I’ve finally got things worked out and I keep wondering, ‘Why couldn’t I have figured it out five months ago?’
“You look at my at-bats, I’m squaring the ball up, even with my outs. Before, I’d get a pitch to hit and either pop it up or foul it off.”
M’s make hire
General manager Jack Zduriencik announced that Tom Allison has been hired as director of professional scouting.
Allison comes with over 18 years of scouting experience, most recently as the midwest regional cross-checker for the Boston Red Sox. Allison spent four years as director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks .
A former professional infielder and coach in the Mets organization, Allison, 45, is a Northwest native, growing up in the Vancouver (WA) area.
Michael Saunders wasn’t in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game following the birth of his and wife Jessica’s first child in Colorado. He arrived in Anaheim Wednesday evening and will be in the lineup today. … If you think it seems like the Mariners only win or lose by one run this season, there’s a reason — the team has won 25 one-run games, and lost 27. That’s just over a third of the games they’ve played. … Where’s Mike Carp been this month? On the bench. “He’s not playing the outfield now, Smoak is getting the at-bats at first base and John Jaso and Jesus Montero are getting most of the at-bats at designated hitter. Carp’s had a tough season. Every time he gets going, he’s gotten hurt.” … Seattle’s lineup Wednesday was its 135th of the season, coming in Game No. 155.