Smoak showing signs of improvement

Smoak showing signs of improvement

SEATTLE -- Justin Smoak has stumbled out of the gates to start the 2012 campaign, but the Mariners first baseman just might be on the cusp of turning his fortunes around at the plate.

Smoak, who has hit out of the cleanup spot for the Mariners, entered Tuesday's game against the Indians hitting just .186 with five RBIs. But manager Eric Wedge has seen signs of improvement. The first came on Saturday when Smoak took multiple off-speed pitches and earned a walk.

Then came the line-drive home run Smoak hit Sunday, an at-bat where he not only fought to a full count, but one where he stayed back on a changeup for his second home run of the season.

"For him, he's at his best when he stays in his swing, his bat quickens up, he recognizes pitches better," Wedge said after Sunday's game. "Laying off one pitch today and then getting himself in position with the full count to where he can get on something there. A late changeup but he stayed through it and hit it out of the ballpark."

"To stay back on a changeup like that, that makes you feel a lot better," Smoak said. "The last few games I've been getting those off-speed pitches and rolling right through them and staying right through them. A 3-2, you're shooting fastball and you see the changeup and stay back, it's always good."