(1090 The Fan) — While it may seem the Mariners have plenty of options when it comes to picking a first baseman for the 2014 season, manager Lloyd McClendon already has his mind made up.
“I said this winter that Smoak is my first baseman,” McClendon said Monday morning to a group of reporters in Arizona. “Will other guys play first? Yeah. But Smoak is my first baseman.”
Smoak’s future seemed uncertain this past winter after the Mariners signed power hitter Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison — who both can play first base.
Since coming over in the Cliff Lee trade with the Texas Rangers in 2010, Smoak’s streaky power has been a concern. The 27-year-old has a slugging percentage of .391 as a member of the Mariners, and has only tallied 54 home runs in the past three seasons. When it’s a south paw on the mound, Smoak is practically a guaranteed out; against left-handed pitching in 2013, Smoak’s line was .192/.274/.274 with just two home runs and 11 RBI.
Though Smoak is McClendon’s choice at first base, MLB.com’s John Schlegel reiterates that Smoak’s work at the plate isn’t done this spring. Schlegel says, “While his defensive prowess at first is unquestioned, his offensive ability has yet to be fully tapped.” Smoak told reporters he’s trying to take a different mentality at the plate, especially from the right side, where he has a tendency to pull the ball.
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