Wedge gives Smoak homework for offseason

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak didn't play Tuesday in Toronto, which is no surprise given that his average has been under .200 virtually the entire second half of the season.
He's been out of the lineup three times in five games since Sept. 5, which is what happens when a middle-of-the-lineup hitter has a .189 average and a .312 on-base percentage in September.
Smoak will play off and on the rest of the season in all likelihood, but manager Eric Wedge and the coaching staff have mapped out what they hope will be a solid offseason as a prelude to a better 2013.
The manager said this fall and winter will comprise an important offseason for Smoak, who has never quite been the hitter either he or the Mariners hoped he would be when Seattle acquired him as part of the July 2010 deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas.
Both the manager and members of the coaching staff have been talking with Smoak about those expectations.
"We just need to make sure we get him on the right path," Wedge said before the Mariners' 4-3 win over the Blue Jays. "We're working through what we're going to do right now, but we need to utilize the time in the offseason for him to develop better habits mechanically at home plate.
"The first part of that is for him to have a firm understanding of what he needs to do to keep his swing together. His upper half and lower half don't work together like they should. When they are on line together, then you see the bat speed, you see the power, you see the recognition of pitches much better."

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