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Smoak starts rehab assignment at Triple-A

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SAN DIEGO -- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak, on the 15-day disabled list since June 9 with a strained left quad, went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday night as the Rainiers topped Colorado Springs, 4-2.

He is eligible to rejoin the Mariners next Wednesday, and manager Lloyd McClendon indicated Smoak likely would be ready by that time.

"The leg is feeling good," McClendon said. "He will DH the first day or two, then get out in the field. He just needs to build his at-bats back up and then we'll get him back up here. I don't foresee this being a 20-day thing with Justin Smoak, no."

Right fielder Michael Saunders (inflamed right shoulder) and designated hitter Corey Hart (strained left hamstring) will likely begin their own rehab stints Friday with Tacoma, McClendon said.

Saunders, who is eligible to return on June 26, had been limited to swinging in the cage until getting the green light to take batting practice on the field prior to Wednesday's game with Colorado Springs.

Hart is on a slower timetable as he's been out since May 19 and already had been operating on a short spring while coming off a full-season layoff last year following a pair of knee surgeries.

"Hart will DH mainly to start off, get him going again, get his legs under him, then eventually play some first base and outfield," McClendon said. "Obviously when he comes back here, I want him swinging the bat well. But he needs some at-bats. He's been out a significant amount of time. It's not that easy up here. He's got to get some at-bats and get himself going again. And once he's ready, we'll bring him back."

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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