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Smoak rested, ready for spring games

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Justin Smoak wasn't in the lineup for the Mariners' first Cactus League game on Friday, but the big first baseman said he's healthy and eager to get started.

Manager Eric Wedge held several starters back in the charity game against the Padres, including Smoak, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, second baseman Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brendan Ryan.

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Ackley and Ryan aren't going to play the first three or four games, as Wedge wants to bring them along slowly as they return from offseason surgeries. Gutierrez and Smoak likely will be in action this weekend as the Mariners and Padres square off Saturday and Sunday as well.

"I'm ready to get going," Smoak said. "It seems really early, like we just got here yesterday and we're already playing games, but other than that, I'm ready to go. Last year, we needed to play games early, because we were going to Japan. This time we're here early and we've still got a month left, so we've got a lot of time."

Smoak said he's working hard to stay with the approach that worked so well at the end of last season, when he hit .341 with five home runs in the final 27 games.

"With me, it's just getting locked in and trying to stay up the middle and the other way right now," Smoak said. "If I get the pitch middle in, I can do something with it, but you try not to do too much early on and just try to hit it where it's pitched.

"You want to come out the first day of batting practice and just try to launch balls, especially in Arizona, but I've come to find out I don't have to try to launch balls. That was my biggest problem the last couple years, trying to hit homers. Now it's just more about trying to stay within myself and just hit it where it's pitched. If you get good swings, you're going to drive the ball."

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