SEATTLE -- It's been a season of struggles for Justin Smoak at the plate, and Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the first baseman has his work cut out for him in the offseason.Smoak is hitting just .189 in 113 games with an on-base percentage of .312. The switch-hitter's 101 strikeouts are the third most on the team, even though he spent about three weeks in Triple-A Tacoma starting in late July. Wedge called it an important offseason for Smoak, as he needs to get stronger and work on his swing. The Mariners skipper has already had discussions regarding this winter with some players and will break down Smoak's swing before he departs after the season. "We just need to make sure we get him on the right path," Wedge said. "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." Wedge said the type of adjustments Smoak needs to make are tough to implement during the season because of the desire to compete and succeed at the same time.
Capps acclimating to the Majors
SEATTLE -- Mariners rookie Carter Capps isn't used to throwing so many pitches, or different types of pitches, for that matter. But at the big league level, he's learned it takes more than just pumping fastballs to be successful."Everybody up here just battles so good," the flame-throwing 22-year-old said. "Usually you can get more quick outs in the Minors, I'd say, but here everybody's such good hitters, such good plate discipline, the at-bats are a little longer." Capps quickly progressed through the Minors, making just one appearance at Triple-A before joining the Mariners. The right-hander worked as a closer in Double-A, pitching to, at most, four or five batters during an appearance. On Saturday, Capps went 2 1/3 innings and threw 40 pitches, the highest total in both categories during his 10-game Major League career. "It's just fun because you got to throw all your pitches," he said. "You can go up there and throw all fastballs, [but] like I learned, eventually they're going to hit it. They're going to time it up and then it's just like batting practice."
Wedge sees Ackley at top of order in future
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he likes Dustin Ackley in the leadoff role, but can see him anywhere in the top three spots of the order.Ackley has hit out of six spots in the lineup, but his 79 games as the leadoff hitter are more than any other place. "Like I've said so many times, he's going to end up either one, two or three, depending on him and everybody else, in regard to how it all plays out and how we all eventually settle in," Wedge said. "I think when it's said and done, he's going to be a good hitter. He's going to be a guy that's going to hit with a little bit of power, he's going to hit for extra bases, he's going to have the ability to steal the base, the ability to see some pitches. Those are all positive things up top." Ackley has struggled this season, hitting .230 with a team-leading 112 strikeouts, but he also leads the team with 51 walks and is successful in 13 of his 16 stolen-base attempts. The second baseman also has hit 10 home runs and has 48 RBIs. Despite the glimpse of power, it's not what concerns Wedge. "Again, I think it's important to say that's not the priority," Wedge said. "It's about him hitting and getting on base and scoring runs. As he continues to develop as a hitter, the power will come, too."
Wedge said he likes what he's seen from Alex Liddi since he was recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 4. Liddi was in the starting lineup on Sunday for the first time since being optioned on June 12."He has looked a little bit better in BP," Wedge said. "His swing's a little bit more together, he's using his lower half better, which allows his hands to work a little bit better." The Safeco Field roof was closed during Saturday's contest, marking the end of 31 consecutive games with the roof open. It is the second-longest stretch ever, behind 35 straight contests from June 5-Aug. 28, 2006. Kyle Seager (16 home runs and 13 stolen bases) and Michael Saunders (14 home runs and 18 stolen bases) are closing in on becoming the first Seattle teammates to reach the 15 home run and 15 stolen base mark since Bret Boone and Mike Cameron did it in 2003.
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.