Updated Feb 26, 2013 - 5:27 pm
So far so good for Mariners' Justin Smoak
Justin Smoak entered spring training hoping the adjustments he made last year would continue to pay off in 2013, a season that could determine his long-term future with the Mariners.
Smoak is hoping that his hot start is the product of some changes he made to his swing during a three-week demotion to Triple-A Tacoma last July.
"[I] did a lot of work down there, a lot of good work. Did some things that really helped me out a lot," he told Jim Moore and Dave Wyman on Monday. "When I came back up it was just one of those things of trusting it. I stuck with it and it started to show there the last month or so."
Smoak struggled in August once he was recalled but hit .341 with five home runs and a 1.005 OPS over the final 26 games. He had finished with similar surges in previous Septembers, but each time failed to follow that up with a strong start the following season.
His offseason work included more than refining those mechanical adjustments he made in Tacoma. Smoak improved his strength by going "back to the old-school way of lifting weights – squatting, dead-lifting and bench press and stuff like that" and says he feels as strong as he ever has heading into a season.
He altered his approach, too, spending more time studying pitchers to have a better sense of how they'll try to pitch to him.
After scuffling through two and a half disappointing seasons, Smoak believes he's finally in the right state of mind.
"When you struggle, you're always searching. Since I got called up in 2010 I feel like I've been searching ever since," he said. "Right now I'm at a place where I know what I need to do to get ready, I know what I need to day in and day out in the cage, I know what I need to do during BP to get the feeling I want to feel. I feel like if I do that day in and day out good things are going to happen. It's just a matter of relaxing and letting my ability take over."
The video below includes thoughts from Bob Stelton and Scott Soden on Smoak's hot start to spring training.
You can listen to Tuesday's show here.
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