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With first base crowded, Hart will see time in outfield

With first base crowded, Hart will see time in outfield

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison both coming off knee injuries, the question of how much outfield play each might get figures to loom throughout Spring Training as the Mariners sort out their options.

Both are also capable of playing first base and serving as the designated hitter. But Justin Smoak is also in the mix at first, so there figures to be competition there as well as in the outfield.

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"I'm going to be very cautious and bring them along very slowly," manager Lloyd McClendon said Sunday. "Both of these guys are very talented, coming off injuries. Ideally, you'd like to see them get some time in the outfield as well as first base. But their health is going to dictate a lot of that.

"They're both healthy, and I want to keep it that way, so we're going to move real slow in that process. But you'll see them out there this spring. I would say Hart more than Morrison. Morrison will be a little more first base and DH."

McClendon said the playing time issue "will sort itself out," and indicated he'll likely rotate at designated hitter in order to play the best matchups and to keep players fresh. But first base could be interesting with Morrison and Smoak competing for time and Hart also an option.

"One thing I know, the manager doesn't make out the lineup," McClendon said. "If you go out and go 3-for-4 and hit a home run and drive in four runs, somehow your name is in the lineup the next day. Your performance on the field will dictate what the lineup is. I'd be a fool not to put the guys out there that I think will give me the best opportunity to win on a daily basis.

"This is one of the messages I said to my club. This is a result-oriented business. This is not about development at this level, it's about winning games. And we have to win games. You want to be developed, we'll send you back to the Minor Leagues and you can do all the developing you want to do."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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