Justin Smoak expected to open the season as the Mariners’ primary first baseman

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The Mariners are coming off an active winter in which they added Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay, but those moves will not have an impact on Justin Smoak’s job security at first base. At least not immediately.

According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said today that Smoak will begin the season as the primary first baseman barring “something drastic.” His reasoning is that he would prefer to stay away from making a decision based on spring training performance.

“I think you do,” he said. “Spring training is a part of it, but it’s by no means the biggest part of it as far as I’m concerned. You’ve got to look at everything. With guys that we’ve already had, the history helps us. Because there are so many indicators, both good and bad, that you can work off of.”

While it’s true that too much can be made from the small sample of spring training games, it can also be argued that Smoak has already had his fair share of chances. The 26-year-old owns a lousy .223/.306/.377 batting line over his first three seasons in the majors. Still, the Mariners appear intrigued by his strong finish last season, especially with the fences moving in at Safeco Field.

Assuming the Mariners hold firm to their plan, Morales will open the season as the primary DH while Morse will play left field, Michael Saunders will start in right and Ibanez will bounce around a bit. Of course, that dynamic could change pretty quickly if Smoak struggles out of the gate.

White Sox shut down Lucas Giolito for remainder of season

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The Athletic’s James Fegan reports that the White Sox are shutting down starter Lucas Giolito for the remainder of a season. An MRI revealed a mild lat strain, which typically comes with a three- to four-week recovery timetable. The third-place, 65-84 White Sox have nothing left to play for, so it makes sense to play it safe with their prized young hurler.

Giolito, 25, had a breakout season. He went 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and a 228/57 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings. He made his first All-Star team and will likely earn a few downballot votes for the AL Cy Young Award.

Giolito was scheduled to start Tuesday’s series opener against the Twins. Ross Detwiler will start in his place opposite Martín Pérez.