Justin Smoak returned to the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field on Tuesday, recalled from Tacoma not quite because he was ready but because Mike Carp landed on the disabled list.
“If Carp were healthy, would Justin have been called up? Maybe not the same day, but soon,” manager Eric Wedge said. “This is where we want him, and he was our best option.”
Smoak brought with him a .242 batting average in 20 games with the Rainiers, with 16 walks and four RBI. The numbers, Smoak said, didn’t tell the full story.
“My focus was more on hitting left-handed than right-handed, on shortening my stroke up, being patient at the plate,” Smoak said. “I worked hard. I felt better than I had in a long time, but I still hadn’t gotten the consistency.
“What I came back with is a pregame routine that will get me ready to hit every day the same way. I never had one of those in the big leagues.”
Smoak, 25, was batting .188 when Seattle sent him to Tacoma on July 24. Though he played only 90 of the Mariners’ first 118 games, he is tied for the club lead in home runs (13).
Carp, 26, had been batting .308 over has past 15 games before coming out of Sunday’s game with a strained hip muscle. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the third time in 2012.
“My locker is right next to Franklin Gutierrez, and I told him, ‘We’ve got to stop hanging out together,’ ” Carp said. “It’s been a tough year for injuries. My goal is to get well and have September.”
Twice this season Carp has been on the DL because of a shoulder injury suffered in the season-opening series in Japan. Carp has appeared in 49 games, batting .206 with five home runs and 20 RBI.
Asked whether his 16 walks in Tacoma were due to his patience or pitchers working around him, Smoak showed his sense of humor remains intact.
“Patience. I don’t know why anyone would pitch around me,” Smoak said.
Jason Vargas has 13 wins this season, and the last Mariners left-handed starting pitcher to win as many games in a season was Jamie Moyer in 2005. ... After 118 games this season, Seattle’s team batting average was .231 – dead last in the American League. A year ago, after 118 games, it was .230. And yes, that ranked last in the AL, too. ... Though he became the closer in late May, Tom Wilhelmsen’s 16 saves rank 10th in the AL. Since getting the job, Wilhelmsen is 2-1 with 16 saves and a 1.06 over 30 appearances. ... John Jaso has batted .319 in his past 32 games, and Wedge has noticed. “Jaso is more of a hitter than we expected him to be,” Wedge said. Overall, Jaso batted .286 in his first 71 games.
Seattle hosts Tampa Bay at 12:40 p.m. on Roots Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.52 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (10-5, 2.74).firstname.lastname@example.org