SEATTLE -- Some time at Triple-A seems to have done Justin Smoak good.
Spending just shy of a month with Tacoma after failing to get his bat jump-started all season, Smoak has produced better results since rejoining the Mariners on August 14. The first baseman is 4-for-13 (.308) in four games since his return and on Saturday he had his first multi-extra base hit game since May 30.
Smoak, though, is just trying to get to a point where he can have the same routine each day.
"You figure out something that you feel works and try to stick with it," he said. "That's something that in the past, things will be going well and I'll be trying to do too much and things started to hit the fan. You've got to be a good hitter before you can hit home runs. That's something that I'm trying to do now, keep it simple and not try to do too much."
Last six weeks of season important to Mariners
SEATTLE -- The Mariners have been in last place in the American League West for most of the season, with a losing record to go along with their place in the cellar. Don't tell manager Eric Wedge that the last six weeks of the season don't mean anything, though.
"Every game means something," he said. "I've never understood when people, quote unquote, 'Think you're out of it.' They don't think the games mean anything. This is the big leagues. You guys are still showing up every day, you get paid to do your job, people are paying their hard-earned money to come watch us play, it's in the paper every day. It's real. It's important.
"People are a little bit happier when we win and a little less happier when we lose. Everything that we're doing is going to lead to something great at some point in time. It all matters."
Wedge calls July and August the toughest months of the season. With the finish line ahead, it can be easy to mail it in. That's not how the Mariners have played, though. They are 21-13 since the All-Star break, good enough for the second-best record in the American League.
Even still, Wedge is concerned with success at the moment. As the team builds toward the future, he does not want to abandon the current team.
"I look at today. Winning today is all I concern myself with right now," Wedge said. "I reflect on the last two games, I reflect on the last couple series, I reflect on post-All-Star break, I look back at where we were in Spring Training, I look back at where we were last year and I consider where we want to be next year. I'm not looking for a, quote unquote, 'Definition of where we are.' I know where we are, that's all that matters."
Wedge will remain patient in evaluations
SEATTLE -- Eric Wedge believes in patience, and when it comes to his players, that's the approach he'll continue to take.
As the season progresses into its final stages and players are jockeying for starting jobs for both the present and future, the second-year Mariners manager is giving his players equal opportunity.
"Going to give these guys every opportunity to be a guy," he said. "What I mean by that, is I want everybody to be an everyday player. I want everybody to be one of our five starting pitchers, one of our seven guys in the bullpen. I don't close the door on anybody. I'll never close the door because I don't know everything."
The reason Wedge takes a patient approach is he believes players develop at different rates. Someone can be ready in their early 20s, but for others it might be their 30s until it clicks. With an unusually young roster, the patience becomes even more important for the Mariners this season.
"Nine times out of 10, if you're patient in this game, you will be rewarded for it," Wedge said. "I believe that. That's just the nature of the beast, that's where this game's different from any other professional sport."
Franklin Gutierrez (concussion) played five innings in center field with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday in the first game of his rehab assignment. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez felt good after, and if all was well on Sunday morning, he would be in the lineup again as the designated hitter.
The Mariners are attempting their third series sweep since the All-Star break on Sunday, which would lead the American League. The A's and Rays also had the opportunity for their third sweeps on Sunday.
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.