Wedge reiterates plans for Smoak, Morales
It’s only six days into Spring Training and Monday brought the first round of live batting practice, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge reaffirmed what he’s been saying all along: He sees Justin Smoak as the primary first baseman heading into the season, with newcomer Kendrys Morales mostly at designated hitter.
“It would have to be something drastic” to change that, Wedge said.
Of course things can come up during the next five weeks to alter plans, but the Mariners envision Smoak as an integral part of their future and Wedge wants his glove at first base, while Morales — on a one-year contract and coming back from a significant ankle injury — provides a healthy addition to the offense at DH.
What goes into that?
“Spring Training is a part of it, but it’s by no means the biggest part of it as far as I’m concerned,” Wedge said. “You have to look at everything. With guys we’ve already had, the history helps us because there’s so many indicators, both good and bad, that you can work off of.
“Of course, playing against Morales, I know what he’s all about. Right here, sitting here today, we’re lined up where Smoak is going to get the bulk of the time at first base and Kendrys is going to get the bulk of the time DHing. But we’ve got enough flexibility and versatility where we can change off that if we need to.”
What have the Mariners been able to see of Smoak so far this spring?
“Technique wise, just the fundamental side of things. Obviously we knew what he was doing for the last 5-6 weeks last year and we want to see a lot of that. You look at the ball off the bat, how it’s reacting and carrying. Really all we have to work on right now is batting practice, but bat speed we’re seeing. There are things we need to see for him to be successful and we’re seeing those.”