The Mariners announced earlier this evening that they have activated Justin Smoak from the disabled list. He’ll serve as the designated hitter and bat fifth tonight against the Athletics.
Smoak has been sidelined since suffering a broken nose on a bad hop grounder while playing first base on August 12. He went 0-for-11 with three walks over four games during a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma, but the important part is that he is feeling 100 percent. According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the switch-hitter will have a plastic flap covering the left side of his face when he hits right-handed.
Smoak, 21, is batting just .220/.317/.387 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and a .704 OPS over 410 plate appearances this season, including a .175 batting average and zero homers since the All-Star break.
It’s never fun to break your nose, but the silver lining is that Smoak was given some extra time to rest a thumb injury which was likely affecting his production at the plate. He now has an opportunity to finish the season on a high note.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.