If you're a fan of irony, this is delicious: Justin Smoak and pitcher Danny Cortes have been called up from Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners today, less than 24 hours after they helpled the Rainiers win the Pacific Coast League championship.
Smoak, the main piece in the five-player deal that sent Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to Texas, was sent down to alleviate pressure he was putting on himself to justify the trade. Now, 35 minor league games later, he's back in the Seattle lineup.
And the first pitcher he'll face? Cliff Lee.
If Smoak doesn't hyper-ventilate, Cortes might. He's a high-energy 23-year-old right-hander obtained in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade with Kansas City, and after the Mariners converted him from starter to reliever, something amazing happened.
He began throwing pitches 100 mph. Then 101. Then 102.
"He was clocked at 102 a number of times, and it was legitimate," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We're going to let him get his feet wet. This isn't an evaluation, that wouldn't be fair to the young man. We just want him to get a feel for the big leagues."
Neither Smoak nor Cortes has had any sleep since winning the PCL title and rising early this a.m. to fly to Seattle. One is starting, the other is available. Here's today's lineup:
- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
- Chone Figgins, 2B
- Jose Lopez, DH
- Franklin Gutierrez, CF
- Justin Smoak, 1B
- Josh Bard, C
- Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
- Michael Saunders, LF
- Josh Wilson, SS
- Jason Vargas, P