Mariners Insider Blog

Wedge says Smoak will get 'bulk' of time at first, Morales at DH

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said today the plan is for Justin Smoak to get the bulk of time at first base and Kendrys Morales to get the same at DH this season. Wedge said how spring training goes is a factor in determining how their time will be split/spent, but that it would take something "drastic" in order for that approach to the change.

Also of note is that the Mariners have until Thursday to make a decision on Mike Carp, who was DFA'd Feb. 12. The Boston Globe's well-connected Nick Cafardo says a trio of teams have an interest in Carp.

— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) February 18, 2013 

Here's our full conversation with Wedge from today:

Any change in Felix?) Completely the same guy. He’s been the same guy since I got here. I know he evolved a great deal before I got here, but, he’s just a character-based human being. The way he treats people. The way he handles himself as a professional. The way he handles himself personally, what’s important to him personally. His work ethic and everything that goes along with it. I don’t ever see that changing. He cares about the things you want a baseball player or a man to care about and those are consistencies he carries with him.

You have a schedule for him?) Probably looking at throwing a bullpen a day after tomorrow. Probably what we’re shooting for right now.

What’s Alvin Davis’ role?) More so on the hitting side of things. We’re utilizing him in a greater role than that (though). He’s been doing a lot over at first base and just being involved in all the meetings. Ultimately, he’s going to float around and bounce around in different minor league cities and continue to work with the hitters in the minor league. The intangibles that he possesses are as strong as anything, as far as I’m concerned.

Thoughts on Zunino) Impressive. He’s a complete player. Very comfortable in his own skin for a young man. Sometimes it takes men a long time to get there. Sometimes men never get there. I think that he carries himself with confidence but not any complacency. You can tell already he has a great respect for the game. You can tell already he’s a student of the game. I’m very impressed with the way he handles himself catching bullpens and just handling the pitching staff here early on. Fundamentally, he’s been very impressive from both the offensive and defensive side.

Did his hot bat last year surprise you?) I don’t know about surprise. The first year or two you don’t really have great expectations. You want to get them in the organization and go out and compete and see where they are in pro ball. Some come quicker, some take a little bit longer. Some come quick, hit a roadblock, then have to get back going again. We’ll see how it plays. We knew he could hit. We knew he was a good hitter. But, you’re always curious to see how it translates to pro ball. Obviously, he didn’t miss a beat.

Are you looking for any early technical signs from Smoak that he’s on the right path?) Technique-wise, there is the fundamental side of things … we know what he was doing for the last five, six weeks of last year, we want to see a lot of that. You look at the ball off the bat, how the ball is reacting off the bat, then carry on top of that. All we’ve got to work on is BP right now. Bat speed, which you’re seeing. Things that we need to see for him to be successful, we’re seeing those.

You’re going to have to make a decision about his playing time at first with Morales and others here. Is spring training going to decide that?) No. Spring training is a part of it, but it’s by no means the biggest part of it as far as I’m concerned. You’ve got to look at everything. With guys we’ve already had, the history helps us, because there are so many indicators, both good and bad there, that you can work off of. Of course, playing against Morales, I know what he’s all about. Right now, sitting here today, we’re lined up to where Smoak is going to get the bulk of time at first base and Kendrys is going to get the bulk of time at DH.We’ve got enough flexibility and versatility that we can change off that if we have to.

But, you’re not looking to change off that before the regular season?) It’d have to be something drastic (to do so).

Why kind of presence and influence does Shoppach have on young catchers?) He’s done a nice job. I’ve known him from early on in Cleveland when he was younger. Had him the first couple years when he broke in. It’s been nice to see how far along he’s come. He’s had a leadership personality for us, in particular with the pitchers and the catchers. He does have some presence. He’s a good ballplayer. He’s a winning ballplayer. Another thing I like about Kelly, is he understands the program. He was with us in Cleveland when we got over that hump and saw how and why we did things. With the exception of coaches, there’s really nobody over here that was a part of that with us over there. He’s somebody that can see around the corner and understand why we’re doing things and why we go about things the way we do.