Smoak entered Wednesday's game with a .472 average in his past 10 games.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak has been through various phases of remodeling his swing the past two years, while his performance has seen some late-season hot streaks that led to nothing further.
But now, with Smoak riding yet another September streak that saw him enter Wednesday’s game with a .472 average in his past 10 contests, he says the shorter swing he’s spent much of the season trying to perfect is finally paying off in multiple ways.
“I’m still chasing a little bit too much left-handed,” Smoak said after hitting a pair of home runs from both sides of the plate on Tuesday night. “But it’s one of those things where I feel like I’m in a better position to hit and I don’t have to try to speed up to catch up with the fastball. It’s always a good thing when you have that kind of feeling, so you don’t swing at the slider and get hit with a changeup.”
Smoak added to his home run barrage here in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game, taking Angels starter C.J. Wilson over the left field wall for his third blast in two nights.
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Mariners manager Eric Wedge said before Wednesday’s game he feels that Smoak’s latest changes are “real” and will last for him this time.
“There’s good reason to believe that what he’s doing will last because he’s made some changes to some fundamentals as well as just mindset,” Wedge said. “To be able to turn around a 95 mph fastball up in the zone from the left side and hit it the way he hit it, you can’t ask for more than that.”
• The Mariners moved on Wednesday to fill an executive position left vacant the past two years, naming Tom Allison as their director of professional scouting. Allison, 45, has 18 years of scouting behind him, spending the past two seasons as the Midwest Regional Crosschecker for the Boston Red Sox and four years prior as a scouting director for the Arizona Diamondbacks during some of their better draft years.
Seattle hasn’t had a director of pro scouting since firing Carmen Fusco two years ago, shortly after controversy erupted over the team’s trade for pitcher Josh Lueke — who’d pleaded no contest to a charge of false imprisonment with violence against a California woman a couple of years earlier. The Mariners never gave a specific reason for why Fusco was terminated and had split his duties between their regional scouting directors ever since.
Allison spent six years with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000 to 2006 while current Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik helped run that team’s scouting department.
• Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders was expected to rejoin the club Wednesday night after his wife, Jessica, gave birth to a baby girl Tuesday in Colorado.
• The Angels are starting right-hander Dan Haren in Thursday’s series finale against the Mariners. Previous advance reports had listed Ervin Santana as the starter, though the Angels insist their plan was always to have Haren pitch.