While not quite a Best Shape of His Life tale, this weekend report from Larry Larue of the Tacoma News Tribune does profess Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak as having an improved physique:
“I gave up Mexican food – man, I could crush burritos,” Smoak told Larue. “And pizza. I could crush those, too. I gave up bread, ate almost entirely meat and vegetables – and working out two hours a day, four days a week didn’t hurt. My wife loved it, because she always ate well and worked out. I’ve been (in camp) three days, hitting in the cage. I don’t know that the ball is going any further when I hit it, but I know I’m in much better shape. This is how I was in college.”
Smoak, 25, registered a .234/.323/.396 batting line, 15 home runs and 55 RBI in 489 plate appearances last season. The Mariners are hoping that the former first-round pick of the Rangers can take a big step forward in 2012 and help cure some of Seattle’s chronic offensive ills.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.