ST. PETERSBURG -- Struggling first baseman Justin Smoak was dropped to seventh in the Mariners batting order Wednesday, as manager Eric Wedge said he wanted the youngster to take a break from being the clean-up hitter.
Wedge didn't put a time frame on the move, but hopes Smoak can get squared away and work his way back up the lineup after starting the season with a .190 average, three home runs and nine RBIs in his first 21 games.
"I still believe in Smoak," said Wedge. "I've always been one of his biggest fans. I know he's going to get it done, but right now he's not getting it done and we're in the business of winning ballgames here, so we had to make an adjustment.
"I think it's going to help him to take him out of there, catch his breath a little and get back on track. Then we'll go from there."
Wedge said he needs more production out of the middle of his order after seeing the team go 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position over four games heading into Wednesday's contest.
"I think we'll leave him down there a little while," Wedge said. "But my hope would be to get him back in the middle of our lineup, because I think that's where he belongs."
Smoak hit a couple balls hard in Tuesday's 3-1 loss, but acknowledge he needs to be more consistent to get results.
"I hit the line drive to the first baseman and the deep fly ball to center," he said. "The more you do that, the more success you're going to have. I'm doing it once or twice every two days. You have to be more consistent with that. That's where I feel I'm at right now. I need to have better at-bats and swing at the right pitches."