Justin Smoak is off the disabled list after missing nearly a month with a strained quadriceps, but instead of simply adding him to the active roster the Mariners demoted the first baseman to Triple-A.
Smoak really struggled before the injury, hitting .208 with seven homers and a .643 OPS in 63 games, which is a 100-point drop from his 2013 production.
Logan Morrison has been serving as Seattle’s everyday first baseman and rather than shifting him back to the outfield the Mariners will leave him there and stick with Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders in the corner spots while using the newly activated Corey Hart at designated hitter.
Last year was just the second time in Smoak’s career that he’s been an above-average hitter, so the Mariners may simply be ready to give up on the 27-year-old former top prospect.
There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.
The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.
All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.
After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.
Here’s today’s schedule: