Smoak slowly gaining momentum at plate

Smoak slowly gaining momentum at plate

Smoak slowly gaining momentum at plate
BOSTON -- It's been a tough go for Justin Smoak this season, but the first baseman has heated up over the last four games and appears to be gaining some momentum.

Smoak went 2-for-4 with a double in Monday's 6-1 loss and has gone 8-for-16 over the last four games heading into Tuesday to lift his average 41 points to .214.

Monday's ninth-inning double, on the heels of a home run in Sunday's 6-2 win at Yankee Stadium, are positive signs for the big first baseman. He'd gone 14 games without an extra-base hit prior to Sunday, with his last one being a home run in Detroit on April 26.

The Mariners need Smoak in the middle of their lineup, but manager Eric Wedge dropped him to seventh two weeks ago and now has him hitting sixth.

"I'm encouraged by what we're seeing with him, because what we're seeing is real, with his approach and mindset," Wedge said. "That's good."

Now the question is how soon Wedge might move Smoak back up in the middle of the order, which he admits would help his lineup construction immensely.

"That was one of the things I liked about it to begin with, having a switch-hitter with some power, because we are a little left-handed heavy," said Wedge, "but I'm not going to be in a hurry with that. I do want him to end up there at some point in time. He's just going to have to handle those expectations and keep focused on what he needs to do to be successful."