Justin Smoak was back in the Seattle Mariners lineup, his right hamstring feeling better, but admitted he hadn’t yet fully tested it running hard.
“I haven’t put the jets on yet,” Smoak said.
That got a laugh from teammates, who know the switch-hitting first baseman is one of the slowest men on the team.
Someone asked if Smoak were on first base and Kyle Seager doubled, would he be able to score?
“He doesn’t score when he’s completely healthy,” Seager interjected, laughing.
Smoak didn’t dispute the claim, but did have a comeback.
“I keep telling him, he should hit it over the fence,” Smoak said.
RIGHTY TOPS LEAGUE
Tom Wilhelmsen is like a hitter on a hitting streak – he doesn’t want to talk about it while it’s going on.
Asked about his first eight appearances out of the bullpen this season, or a stretch of games going back to mid-August of last year, the big right-hander shrugged.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he allowed.
Going into play Thursday, Wilhelmsen’s 12 strikeouts led all American League relievers. His earned-run average this year is 0.90, and going back to Aug. 20 last year, Wilhelmsen is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA, having allowed opponents a .134 batting average.
“I’m throwing strikes, using my fastball and curve and the other day I threw three change-ups,” Wilhelmsen said. “The fastball runs away from right-handers, runs into left-handed hitters.”
And it’s thrown over the top of his 6-foot-6 frame, on a downward plane, at about 97 mph.
In just his second major league season, Wilhelmsen is Seattle’s primary setup man. He said he tries to view anyone in the batters box as just another hitter, although he knows better.
“Jeff Francouer,” he said, mentioning the Kansas City outfielder. “He hit a single against me once, then hit a home run on a curveball. I can’t wait to face him again.”
“No, for the challenge,” Wilhelmsen said. “He’ll probably get another curve – just not where he wants it.”
Jesus Montero was given the night off, his first in the first 14 games. “I’ll stay ready in case they need me late,” the rookie said. Manager Eric Wedge said all players in their first full seasons need breaks, and this was the first for Montero. … John Jaso started as the designated hitter but has yet to play behind the plate. Will he catch? “Miguel Olivo is our starting catcher, Montero is our backup,” Wedge said. “It’s tough to get Jaso back there, but we want to get his bat in the lineup when we can.” … Catcher Adam Moore underwent surgery on his right knee Thursday and is expected to miss four to six weeks before returning to the Tacoma Rainiers. Moore turns 28 on May 8. … When Chone Figgins homered Wednesday, it was his first in his past 579 at-bats at Safeco Field. That was the longest streak by any hitter in Safeco Field history.
Seattle hosts the Chicago White Sox in a 7:10 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Chicago’s Chris Sale (1-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. Hector Noesi (1-1, 5.73).
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