This could be the last shot for Smoak to prove that he should be a part of the Mariner's long-term plans, and it's going to take more than the .240 batting average and .344 slugging percentage he had before going on the DL earlier this month for the 26-year-old first baseman to cement his place in the organization.
With no other obvious first baseman of the future -- designated hitter Kendrys Morales was more than adequate there while filling in for Smoak but probably isn't considered an everyday player in the field -- the Mariners need to figure out whether it's a position of need moving forward.
Smoak did himself a favor in his first game back, hitting a solo homer in his first at-bat Tuesday night during the Mariners' 3-2, 10-inning win over the Angels. That kind of power is imperative if Smoak is going to win back the favor of the front office after two-plus seasons of mediocrity.
The more immediate significance of Smoak being back is the domino effect it has on the roster. Morales no longer has to play first base, which means he'll get a chance to rest his sore back while serving in his original role as DH. Michael Morse can also settle in to his natural position, which means aging veterans like Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez can get some time off.
The Mariners invested a lot in Smoak when making him the centerpiece of an in-season trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas in 2010, and the best-case-scenario for the organization would be for him to begin showing signs of being a middle-of-the-order bat for years to come.
However, that has yet to happen, and as Smoak returns from 2 1/2 weeks on the DL due to a strained oblique, he could be on his ninth life in Seattle. Another 150 at-bats with a low average and little power could leave Smoak on the outside as the Mariners look for new first baseman.
NEXT: Mariners (Joe Saunders, 5-6, 4.80) at Angels (C.J. Wilson, 5-5, 3.90)
INF Alex Liddi was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the roster for 1B Justin Smoak, who came off the disabled list. Liddi played in eight games with the Mariners this season, including four starts at first base. He hit .059 (1-for-17).
1B Justin Smoak was activated from the disabled list, and he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Angels RHP Joe Blanton in the second inning. Smoak had not played since May 29 because of a strained oblique muscle in his right side.
1B/OF Michael Morse did not play Tuesday against the Angels. He has been bothered lately by a sore quadriceps, and he got the day off.
RHP Jeremy Bonderman gave up one run and six hits in six innings Tuesday in a no-decision against the Angels. Since giving up seven runs in his first start on June 2, Bonderman has allowed only two runs in 20 innings over his past three starts.
LHP Joe Saunders will make his 15th start of the season Wednesday when he faces the Angels. Saunders has just one win on the road this year, but it came in his last start. He gave up one run in seven innings in a 3-2 win over Oakland. In his only previous start against the Angels, Saunders took a loss last year after allowing two runs in six innings.
"The guys did a great job of fighting. (Jeremy) Bonderman did a great job, and you keep the lead and work hard to keep the lead, and they tie it back up. Especially when you're the visiting team, it can be tough. But our guys kept their cool and kept fighting through it."—Manager Eric Wedge, after the Mariners' 3-2, 10-inning win over the Angels.
1B/OF Michael Morse (sore quadriceps) did not play June 18.
OF Jason Bay (sore hamstring) did not play June 17-18.
1B Justin Smoak (strained right oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 30. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on June 13, and he was activated June 18.
C Jesus Sucre (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6.
CF Franklin Gutierrez (torn right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list April 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on May 16. He was shut down in early June, but he began a new rehab assignment with Tacoma on June 12.
RHP Josh Kinney (stress reaction in left rib area) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on May 17, but made just that one appearance before he was shut down. He began a new rehab assignment with Tacoma on June 10.
RHP Stephen Pryor (torn right lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 15, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17.
C Jesus Montero (torn left meniscus) is expected to be out until late June or early July after undergoing surgery in early June. He isn't on the disabled list because he was optioned to the minors before he got injured.
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP Joe Saunders
RHP Aaron Harang
RHP Jeremy Bonderman
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
LHP Charlie Furbush
LHP Oliver Perez
RHP Carter Capps
RHP Yoervis Medina
RHP Danny Farquhar
RHP Blake Beavan
1B Justin Smoak
2B Nick Franklin
SS Brendan Ryan
3B Kyle Seager
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Carlos Triunfel
LF Michael Morse
CF Michael Saunders
RF Endy Chavez
DH Raul Ibanez
OF Jason Bay