No Michael Saunders or Nick Franklin in the line-up with a lefty on the mound. And giving Carlos Triunfel a start isn't a bad thing. It's a probably a good thing that Hisashi Iwakuma is a ground ball pitcher because the outfield line-up of Raul Ibanez, Endy Chavez and Jason Bay isn't exactly the best defensive unit manager Eric Wedge can put out there.
Kendrys Morales' sore back is feeling good enough to put him back at first, allowing Wedge to put Michael Morse at designated hitter. Neither guy is 100 percent. Wedge said he would have put Morse on the disabled list had Smoak not already been on there.
Speaking of Smoak, he's feeling much better. He hit off the tee, took flips and some light tosses from Dave Hansen today - hitting from both sides of the plate. He's hoping to take batting practice tomorrow and there is a chance he could go out on a rehab assignment after that.
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"With Smoak, it's more about the left-handed side," Wedge said. "We don't want to send him until he's further along left-handed. It's just a matter of him letting it rip."
Franklin Gutierrez also did a running and agility workout. He will do a similar workout tomorrow and be re-evaluated. He and Smoak could both go out on rehab assignment after that.
"Hopefully, they can have a couple of good work days and get them out," Wedge said.
The Mariners will be looking to win their first series against the Astros. They were dubbed the LAstros coming into this season with the expectation of being one of the worst teams in big league history. Instead, they've won four of six from the Mariners and they even swept the Angels in a four-game series.
"They're a big league ball club," Wedge said. "They took it to us twice and they're a better ball club now than they were then."
Are the Mariners better than they were then?
"I don't know," Wedge said. "We'll see, but I think we have guys that are further along and they've made some adjustments. We got a couple guys that are really struggling. But when you talk about our overall game and different areas of our club - with the exception of our offense - I feel like we are more consistent."
That offense is pretty suspect right now.
"We aren't hitting the ball the way we should be hitting the ball right now," Wedge said. "Some of it is personnel and some of it is approach, but it has to get better."