Seth Smith likely to return to lineup on Saturday

SmithSethSTSince his sensational debut for the Mariners on Opening Day, right fielder Seth Smith has been sidelined by a tight groin muscle. But the 32-year-old said Friday he’s feeling better and manager Lloyd McClendon indicated he’d like to have Smith back in the lineup Saturday for the second game of a three-game set with the A’s.

Smith went 3-for-3 with a triple and two doubles in Seattle’s first game of the season on Monday, the first Mariner in club history to record three extra-base hits on Opening Day. But he awoke the following morning with some tightness and hasn’t played since.

“He’s doing better,” McClendon said prior to Friday’s series opener at O.Co Coliseum. “My hope is he’ll be able to play tomorrow.”

Smith wouldn’t likely have been in the lineup Friday regardless, given the A’s were starting southpaw Drew Pomeranz. He’ll be used primarily in a platoon role against right-handers and Seattle faces righties in its next three games.

“I think we’re good,” Smith said after hitting in the cage Friday afternoon.

The eight-year Major League veteran said the soreness affects more than just hitting.

“That specific area, everything you do is incorporated in it,” he said. “Whether it’s running, throwing or hitting, you just have to see where you feel it and where you don’t. Right now, I don’t feel it, so it’s looking good.”

Smith was back at O.Co Coliseum for the first time since spending two seasons with the A’s in 2012-13, making the postseason both years. Now playing for his fourth Major League club after being acquired in December from the Padres for reliever Brandon Maurer, he said it’s a fun part of the big-league journey.

“I’ve been back to Colorado. I’ll go back to San Diego [this year],” Smith said. “It’s fun to come back. No big deal. You miss people, so you say hello and then play a baseball game. I had great memories here.”

— Rickie Weeks will make his first Major League start in left field in Friday’s game after playing DH the previous two games. Weeks worked in left field all spring after playing second base for 11 years in Milwaukee.

— McClendon also had Willie Bloomquist at shortstop on Friday, his first action of the season, and indicated Jesus Sucre would likely start at catcher on Saturday. Sucre is the only position player who has yet to start a game.

“You don’t want them to sit too long,” McClendon said. “My feeling is all your work in Spring Training goes down the drain if you sit too long. You lose your timing and everything else.”

Here’s the full lineup for Friday’s series opener:


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