ANAHEIM, Calif. – One day after hitting a home run and putting two more hard-hit balls in play, Justin Smoak was rewarded with – a seat on the dugout bench.
Smoak was the odd man out Wednesday night, just a day after his strong return off the disabled list. The Mariners currently have three first basemen who can play at two spots in the order and it was the right-handed bats of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales getting the call against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Smoak will get his chance to play when Morse and Morales are given alternating days off ahead to help them recover from nagging injuries. Once those injuries are healed, though, Wedge will still face the issue of playing time for three players in only two spots at first base and designated hitter.
“You’ve got to just get Morse into the outfield,” Wedge said. “That’s what we’ve got to try to do. He did some work yesterday. He’s going to do a little more today. For a first day in the outfield yesterday, (trainer) Rick (Griffin) felt pretty good about it. So, it was a good first day.”
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Morse has piled up some of the worst advanced defensive metrics among baseball outfielders so far, though such statistics are not all that reliable over samples of fewer than a full season, or even two. Wedge seemed to suggest he was fine with Morse’s outfield defense – as long as he is healthy.
“Right now, he’s still limited,’’ Wedge said. “I’m not comfortable putting him out there right now. He’s just going to have to continue to get better before he can get back out there.’’
• Raul Ibanez entered play Wednesday with 14 home runs, the most by any Mariners player before the All-Star break since A
drian Beltre had 16 in 2008. It is the seventh time in his career Ibanez has at least 10 home runs before the break and his most since clubbing 22 with the Phillies in 2009.
• Jeremy Bonderman has allowed just two earned runs his last three starts after giving up just a run over six innings on Tuesday. That’s the fewest runs allowed by Bonderman over a three-start period in his career and just the second time in nine years he’s allowed one earned run or fewer in three consecutive starts.
• Jason Bay missed a third straight game Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @gbakermariners. Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners.